Kazakhstan in a nutshell
Kazakhstan is the largest country in Central Asia, bordering Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Two major cities, Almaty and Astana, are the cultural and economic centers of the country. Kazakhstan is known for its contrasting natural landscapes, from steppes and deserts to the Tien Shan mountains. The country is rich in natural resources and plays an important role in the global energy arena.
Towards diversification and innovation
With its vast natural resources, Kazakhstan has traditionally relied on the extraction and export of oil, gas and minerals. These sectors have long been the backbone of the country's economic growth. In recent years, however, the government has been actively working to diversify the economy, focusing on the development of high-tech and innovative industries, including IT and renewable energy.
Almaty, the cultural and economic capital, remains a leading center for business and finance. The city is actively developing the start-up ecosystem, attracting young entrepreneurs and foreign investment.
Astana, the country's political center, is home to many government innovation programmes and initiatives. Projects such as the Astana Hub provide a platform for developing new business ideas and attracting talented young professionals.
In general, Kazakhstan is actively integrating into the global economy, signing partnership agreements with leading countries and attracting foreign investment. This is enabling the country to strengthen its economic position, create new jobs and offer its citizens more opportunities for professional and personal growth.
Today, Kazakhstan is focusing on the development of the digital economy, recognising its key role in shaping a competitive and innovative society. The Digital Kazakhstan programme is an important step towards full digital integration across all sectors.
Government services. Kazakhstan is introducing e-government to provide online access to various government services. This will make it easier for citizens to interact with government structures, saving time and resources.
Education. Digitisation of the education process will improve access to education by introducing online courses, interactive platforms and distance learning.
Healthcare. Electronic medical records are an important evolutionary step in Kazakhstan's healthcare system, making it more accessible and efficient.
Business and finance. Digital transformation has also impacted the banking and finance sector. The introduction of online banking, mobile payments and other fintech solutions has made financial services more accessible and convenient for customers.
GovTech in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is actively integrating technology into government services to create a modern, transparent and efficient system of government. The development of the GovTech sector is one of the country's key priorities within the framework of the digitalisation and modernisation of the economy.
The integration of government services into banking platforms is a natural extension of e-government development in Kazakhstan. Kaspi and Halyk banks have become pioneers in this field. In the first eight months of 2022, approximately 8.5 million Kazakh citizens used the Government Services section of the Kaspi.kz app, which is almost half of the country's total population. The list of government services available through banking platforms continues to grow.
There are many projects aimed at improving the quality of public services and interaction with citizens. Here are some of the more notable initiatives.
e-Gov.kz is an e-government portal that provides online access to government services. The platform makes it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with government agencies.
Kazakhstan has also long used modern technologies to provide timely access to information, such as Open Government and its components: "Open NPAs", "Open Budgets", "Open Data", "Open Dialogue", "Performance Assessment of State Bodies". And thanks to the service of the "Mobile Centre" application, it is possible to contact the operator via video call and order EDS without leaving home. Previously, Kazakhstanis who did not have a personal computer had to visit the central office to obtain an EDS. By popular demand, the state company has introduced the possibility for individuals and legal entities to obtain EDS via a mobile application.
Digital Kazakhstan is a programme aimed at accelerating the country's digital development in various sectors, including healthcare, education and public administration.
The Astana Hub is an innovation center that promotes the development of start-ups and supports interaction between entrepreneurs, investors and the government. It is an international technopark for IT startups, creating conditions for the free development of Kazakh and foreign technology companies.
According to Magzhan Madiev, founder and CEO of Astana Hub, by July 2023, 1,213 companies will be operating in Astana Hub International Technopark, 314 of them with foreign participation. The share of product companies is about 70% of the total number. The companies in the Technopark employ more than 18,000 people. Major employers include EPAM (1000+ employees), Netcracker (750+), MyTona (600+), BTS Digital (350+), Playrix (300+).
For the first half of the year, the total turnover of the Hub's residents was $357 million. This figure is expected to be around $750-800 million by the end of the year.
E-licensing is an automated system that simplifies the process of obtaining various licenses and permits, reducing bureaucracy and waiting times. Through the portal, applications can be made for 500 types of business activities in the fields of industrial architecture and construction, as well as export-import and other services.
Kazakhstan's banking system
Kazakhstan's banking system has undergone a number of significant changes in recent years, aimed at improving stability, increasing transparency and integrating digital technologies. Kazakhstan's financial sector currently consists of a number of large and regional banks serving both corporate and retail cu
The National Bank of Kazakhstan is implementing a project to create a unique national Open API platform. Open Banking will not only streamline integration processes between services, but also act as a catalyst for the rapid development of new consumer-facing solutions. It will also simplify financial management for consumers, allowing them to efficiently account for their spending, even if they have accounts with different banks.
Fintech startups and banking institutions will benefit most from the adoption of open APIs. Digital customer information will be available to all financial structures, contributing to the creation of more targeted and convenient services. In addition, the National Bank plans to strengthen the security of financial transactions with a new anti-fraud center, which will ensure the real-time exchange of data on fraudulent activities.
Key features of the Kazakh banking sector:
Digital transformation. Most banks in the country offer customers online banking, mobile applications and other digital services that allow them to manage accounts, make transactions and receive advice online.
Fintech development. The fintech sector is actively growing in Kazakhstan. New start-ups and platforms are offering innovative solutions in payments, lending and investment.
Regulation. The National Bank of Kazakhstan plays a key role in regulating and supervising the banking sector, ensuring stability and consumer protection. In recent years, steps have been taken to strengthen banking supervision and capital requirements.
Support for small and medium enterprises. Banks actively support local businesses by providing loans, advice and training programmes for entrepreneurs.
Fintech Industry and Neobanks in Kazakhstan
In recent years, the fintech industry in Kazakhstan has been actively developing, attracting both local and foreign investment. The country has recognised the importance of digital transformation in the financial sector, and is actively supporting start-ups and initiatives in this area.
Government support: Kazakhstan's government policies actively encourage the development of fintech innovation. Specialized accelerators and programmes are being created to support startups in the early stages of their development. A number of fintech platforms are developing dynamically in the country, offering a range of services from payments to investment consulting.
Some of the most notable fintech projects in Kazakhstan include:
Kaspi.kz is one of the most successful fintech companies in Kazakhstan, offering a wide range of services from mobile payments to online lending.
PayQR - a cashless payment platform that allows customers to make purchases, pay bills and transfer money via a mobile application.
Homebank - a digital solution from Halyk Bank that makes everyday banking easier for customers by offering online accounts, money transfers and other services.
Robo.kz - a digital investment advisor that helps customers build and manage investment portfolios.
Freedom Bank is one of the leaders in Kazakhstan's retail investment market. Freedom Bank was one of the first to introduce digital mortgages, car loans and insurance.
Kazakhstan is actively pursuing modernisation and innovation. Economic development is focused on digitalisation and the fintech industry. Oil, gas and minerals have traditionally formed the backbone of Kazakhstan's economy, but revenue diversification is needed, along with investment and development in new sectors such as technology, finance and tourism. Digital transformation, particularly in the banking and fintech sectors, is a clear priority for both businesses and the state.
Our country has ambitious plans and is developing in line with global trends. Many of the existing initiatives and projects have received international recognition. We are proud of what has already happened and what will definitely happen in the future - because Kazakhstan has the desire and the opportunity to become an important digital market for investors, entrepreneurs and specialists from all over the world.
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