PRESS RELEASE: CMA exits Vuka Investment Platform from the Regulatory Sandbox
Nairobi, 29 December 2022…The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has granted a ‘No Objection’ to Acorn Investment Management Limited, to roll-out a retail investor aggregator platform named ‘Vuka’ to the mass market upon the successful completion of the test in the CMA Regulatory Sandbox.
Retail investors are onboarded to Vuka by registering and pay joining and annual membership fees. Once on the platform, investors contribute funds into Acorn Capital Partners LLP (ACPL) through a CMA-licensed custodial account. ACPL purchases units in asset-backed and CMA-approved products such as the Acorn Student Accommodation Income Real Estate Investment Trust (ASA I-REIT) and allocates them to investors in Vuka, in proportion to their investments. Investors can trade amongst themselves on the platform by placing buy and sell orders. Whenever excess buy or sell orders are recorded, the additional units are purchased from the Nairobi Securities Exchange Unquoted Securities Platform.
‘This innovation has demonstrated the ability to mobilize retail investor participation in REITs, in addition to enhancing financial literacy by providing a tangible platform through which investors can buy and sell units among themselves and learn how trading in the capital markets works.’, CMA Chief Executive Officer Wyckliffe Shamiah noted. He pointed out that retail investors in Vuka are encouraged to hold their investments for the long-term as that is the nature of real estate. The innovation also provides liquidity for retail investors, as a response to the illiquid nature of real estate investments.
The fintech was admitted to the Regulatory Sandbox live-testing environment on 20 August 2021. The CMA has noted that the firm will be required to comply with continuous obligations established by the Authority including continuous reporting on a quarterly basis.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE CAPITAL MARKETS AUTHORITY
The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) was set up in 1989 as a statutory agency under the Capital Markets Act Cap 485A. It is charged with the prime responsibility of both regulating and developing an orderly, fair and efficient capital markets in Kenya with the view to promoting market integrity and investor confidence. The regulatory functions of the Authority as provided by the Act and the regulations include; Licensing and supervising all the capital market intermediaries; Ensuring compliance with the legal and regulatory framework by all market participants; Regulating public offers of securities, such as equities and bonds & the issuance of other capital market products such as collective investment schemes; Promoting market development through research on new products and services; Reviewing the legal framework to respond to market dynamics; Promoting investor education and public awareness; and Protecting investors’ interest.
ABOUT THE CMA REGULATORY SANDBOX
Established through the Capital Markets Regulatory Sandbox Policy Guidance Note, 2019 the Regulatory Sandbox is a tailored regulatory environment for conducting limited scale, live tests of innovative products, solutions, and services that have the potential to deepen or broaden the Kenyan capital markets. It provides an evidence-based tool for fostering innovation while allowing the Authority to remain vigilant to investor protection, financial stability, and integrity risks. The Regulatory Sandbox supports the broader national policy agenda described in Kenya Vision 2030 and the 10-year Capital Market Master Plan. Drawing on emerging global best practices, the Authority seeks to position the Regulatory Sandbox as a tool for facilitating capital markets innovation in Kenya and helping to advance the Authority’s goal of creating a vibrant and globally competitive financial sector.