Forex Trading in Kenya: Regulations and Brokers

Kenya is one of the most populous countries in East Africa. With over 53 million citizens, the country is also rapidly becoming a major hub for Forex trading as the regulator, CMA and traditional brokers have started to realize the potential of the markets. Here is everything you need to know about the regulations in Kenya and the brokers that operate there:

The CMA and the regulatory framework it has created

The regulatory body in Kenya is called the Central Market Authority (CMA). It regulates the country’s markets in their entirety – so it also handles the regulation of its growing Forex markets. Prior to 2017, Kenya did not have a strong regulatory framework. This has changed and the CMA has introduced a number of measures with which brokers, seeking to trade in the country, must comply.

Above all, to obtain a license, a company must prove that it has what it takes to operate in the highly competitive Forex markets, without risking failure and taking its clients’ funds with it. To prove this, most regulators require companies to hold a certain amount of capital – and the CMA is no different. A license there requires a company to prove that it holds between 30 and 50 million Kenyan shillings, depending on the type of license. Firms that need a trading license will need to acquire the most expensive license, which is worth around $500,000 at the time of writing. The cheaper license, reserved for non-trader license holders, will still require them to hold around $300,000. This is quite a high requirement – almost equivalent to what brokers in the EU are required to hold – €730,000 to be issued a licence.

Of course, there are more requirements in place. Companies must provide the AMC with a detailed business plan, to prove that they are operated by qualified people who are best qualified to manage customers’ money. These assurances include a detailed set of documents describing the company’s board of directors, an external audit, a three-year short-term business plan and much more. More interestingly, companies that have obtained a license are also required to hold a certain amount of liquid capital to be able to meet their operating costs. This has been determined at at least 30 million Kenyan shillings, or around $300,000 at the time of writing. Holders of trading and non-trading permits will have to hold this amount of money.

Overall, the regulations in place at the time of writing are quite stringent and prove that the AMC takes a tough approach to monitoring the markets and proving not just liquidity, but the transparency of brokers at their fingertips. This means that you will not only know who you are dealing with, but also what they can offer you! Compared to other major forex markets in Africa like Nigeria and South Africa, Kenya is truly on the cutting edge of regulation at the time of writing.

However, the country’s regulations, strict as they are at the time of writing, there are still measures that are excluded from its scope – for example, brokers licensed in the EU are required to maintain a negative balance policy, making it impossible to lose more money than one has invested with a brokerage. At the same time, these traditionally strict jurisdictions have other restrictions in place – there is a limit to the maximum leverage available in the EU of up to 1:30, and bonuses are prohibited. Kenya does not currently have such measures in place.

Here is a comparison between Kenya’s regulatory frameworks, less regulated African markets and the EU framework:

Local forex brokersWith this comparison in mind, it’s easy to see that Kenya is a little in the middle when it comes to regulation. The measures in the country are very strict and aim to prove the liquidity and transparency of the brokers. Firms dealing there are therefore safe and transparent, but there are fewer safeguards in place when it comes to protecting the retail client from market volatility. Overall, Kenya is a market worth following, and the stringent approach adopted by the CMA has put it ahead of other states in Africa. We suspect the regulatory trend will continue for years to come, helping to establish Kenya as a reliable and reputable Forex trading hub.

As the country’s regulatory framework has been thoroughly scrutinized, we would now like to introduce you to some of the best companies operating there – these Kenyan forex brokers are duly licensed with the CMA, but the majority also hold other licenses. Here are the top five CMA licensed brokers in no particular order:

1. Pepper

Licensed by Pepperstone Markets Kenya Limited, this broker is a must for Forex trading. It also holds licenses in Cyprus, Australia, Dubai and the UK. Therefore, trading with the broker is quite safe.

2.Exinity East Africa Limited

Exinity is the company behind a broker that hardly needs an introduction – FXTM. This company has offices in most parts of the world, and the recent Kenyan branch is the latest. This branch is licensed by Exinity East Africa Limited.

3.HFM

Another great broker that is a mainstay in the markets is HFM, or HotForex as it used to be called. It holds licenses in Cyprus, UK, Dubai and most recently in Kenya. The Kenyan branch of the broker is registered with the CMA as HFM Investments Limited.

4.FXPesa

FXPesa is another broker that has obtained a license from the Kenyan regulator. The company is also licensed in the UK and offers good trading conditions.

5. Scope Markets

Scope Markets recently obtained a CMA license, the broker being licensed by SCFM Limted. . The company is licensed in Kenya, but also in Belize, and again is a good broker to trade with.

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