Kazakhstan's central bank launches securities trading app

A woman holds a tablet with installed Kazakhstan's central bank a blockchain-based mobile securities trading application "Invest Online" in this illustration picture taken on March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/Illustration

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s central bank has launched a blockchain-based mobile securities trading application which it hopes will allow locals to become more involved in the capital markets by simplifying access to it.

The oil-rich Central Asian nation’s stock and bond markets are dominated by a handful of institutional investors, with only 109,000 retail investor accounts in the nation of 18 million.

The Astana government hopes to change that by selling stakes in some of the biggest state-controlled companies on the local market, and the central bank said in a statement this week its “Invest Online” app could be used for buying such stocks.

At the moment though, app users can only buy the central bank’s own one-year discount notes denominated in the local tenge currency and yielding 8.5 percent. Tenge deposits at local banks offer returns of 10 to 14 percent.

Within a day after launch, the central bank has sold about $2,300 in notes, it said on Wednesday, and some 200 people registered as application users.

Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Peter Graff and Louise Heavens