Kazakhstan: Fintech Hub

Kazakhstan is embracing cutting-edge fintech.

The central Asian country of Kazakhstan may be geographically remote, but remote is not a barrier in the digital world, and Kazakhstan is increasingly establishing a presence in fintech. In mid-October, Kazakh fintech firm Kaspi.kz raised a total of $1 billion in the second-largest London Stock Exchange offering of 2020, valuing the company at $6.5 billion. The shares will also trade on the Astana International Exchange.

This marked a big turnaround for Kaspi.kz, which scrapped an IPO in late 2019 that would have valued the company at around $4 billion. The floated stake was held by Russia-based venture capital firm Baring Vostok, Goldman Sachs, Kaspi.kz’s chairman Vyacheslav Kim and its CEO Mikheil Lomtadze.

Kaspi.kz has just under 8 million users in Kazakhstan—which is four times the size of Texas and has a population of just 19 million. Kazakhs use Kaspi.kz for everything from bill payments, loans, personal financial management, and as an online marketplace. It’s also used as a cash alternative at retailers throughout the country. The company says it’s planning to expand into online travel and extend its reach into central Asian neighbors and into the Caucasus region.

It was the first offering in Kazakhstan in two years. Other potential issuers from the country include KazMunaiGas, the country’s state-run oil and gas company, which last year delayed an IPO. The national air carrier, Air Astana, as well as telecoms provider Kazakhtelecom also saw their rumored offerings postponed.

One of the most high-profile Kazakh companies on the global markets was miner Eurasian National Resources Corporation, which joined the FTSE 100 in 2008, but fell afoul of regulators and was de-listed 2013.