Almaty (Kazakhstan) – The Kazakhs use Kaspi’s services to pay their bills, make change but also receive government aid against the pandemic, which has further accelerated the success of this fintech, a success of a new kind for Kazakhstan .
Kaspi.kz, the leader in digital payment systems and e-commerce in Kazakhstan, became the country’s largest capitalization group after being valued at $ 6.5 billion when it was listed on the London Stock Exchange in October.
Kaspi thus managed – after a first failure in 2019 – the second largest IPO in the United Kingdom since the beginning of the year.
Among its investors, there are Goldman Sachs and Baring Vostok, a Western fund specializing in the post-Soviet space and one of the architects of Yandex’s record IPO in 2011 on the Nasdaq.
Limited offer. 2 months for 1 € without commitment
The coronavirus pandemic, which has caused e-commerce to explode around the world, has benefited the group, accelerating its growth.
“We believe we have a lot of room to grow further in the future“, Kaspi boss Mikheil Lomtadze told AFP. At the group’s headquarters, this Harvard University Business School graduate from Georgia, in jeans and an open shirt collar.
“We are pioneers in the digitization of the country“Says the 45-year-old entrepreneur, indicating that beyond China, where Alipay and WeChat digital payment systems are ubiquitous, few countries have seen this type of system revolutionize user habits as much as Kazakhstan. .
– Boosted by the pandemic –
The health crisis has put a strain on Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest economy, whose annual GDP is expected to decline this year for the first time in more than two decades.
Kaspi, on the other hand, saw active users of its app increase by 70% in the first half of 2020, year on year, reaching nearly 8 million in a country of 19 million people.
The group started out as a bank in the former Soviet republic before expanding into peer-to-peer payments and e-commerce.
Despite containment measures reducing travel in March and April, an army of Kaspi delivery men continued to crisscross the country, providing vital support to closed businesses, which could sell their products on the platform.
But the application was also the vector for more than 60% of the sums paid by the government in support of eligible citizens. “During this difficult time we became even more important“, says Mr. Lomtadze with pride.
– “All addicted” –
In central Almaty, even street musicians display their Kaspi number as an alternative to cash, and taxi drivers use the app to give customers change.
Jibek, a 21-year-old student, told AFP that even a morning without the app – which she has been using for a year – is difficult. “It’s very useful“, she says, citing bill payment as an example,”all of Kazakhstan is addicted“.
A failure of a few hours, which occurred two weeks after the group’s sensational arrival on the London Stock Exchange, caused a surge of reactions on social networks, Internet users humorously evoking a return to prehistory.
In 2014, however, the situation seemed unfavorable: a sudden fall in the national currency, the tenge, had raised fears that banks were going out of business.
To reassure customers, Mikheil Lomtadze and Vyatcheslav Kim, classmate at Harvard and chairman of Kaspi, visited the bank’s subsidiaries, says financial analyst Tulegen Askarov.
“When bank owners talk to customers who are depositing their money, chances are they’ll get a better idea of what their business should look like.“, says the analyst.
The Chinese neighbor, where Kazakh businessmen discovered Alipay and WeChat, accelerated Kaspi’s turn to fintech, says Askarov.
The group is now looking beyond the Kazakh borders. Kaspi has already launched in Azerbaijan, where it has a sales platform. Next in the sights: Uzbekistan, the most populous country in Central Asia with 34 million inhabitants.