The National Bank of Kazakhstan has announced it is testing a mobile app to enable investors to buy and sell short-term debt obligations using blockchain — the same technology underlying cryptocurrencies like BitCoin.
The National Bank said in a statement that the app would allow people to complete the transactions without having to go through a broker or pay taxes and commission fees.
At the moment, the app is still in beta, but the regulator plans to make the product available to the public in the second half of the year. Eventually, similar solutions could be used for other investments, like the shares being rolled out for sale as part of the long-standing, government-organized IPO, the National Bank said.
According to the details available so far, prospective buyers will need to register with the system through the mobile or web-based app and then obtain electronic credit by paying with their bank card.
The entire initiative confirms an earlier-established openness by Kazakhstan’s financial authorities to the prospect of what are popularly known as cryptocurrencies.
Last year, Daniyar Akishev, the head of the National Bank, appeared to row against the tide of official wariness on the issue when he revealed that a working group had been created to study what he termed as surrogate currencies.
Astana has been trying, albeit without any huge breakthroughs so far, to cultivate an investor class and encourage more people to become more actively engaged on the local stock market. The People’s IPO program, which would have seen the privatization of swaths of state assets, was launched in 2011 with that very idea in mind. But to date only assets in energy commodity transportation company KazTransOil and power grid company KEGOC have sold shares through the program.
Officials hope easy-to-use and bureaucratic-busting technology may hold the answer.