The founders of Kazakh fintech platform Kaspi are new billionaires after a successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange. Cofounder Vyacheslav Kim is worth just over $2.5 billion, while CEO and cofounder Mikhail Lomtadze owns a slice worth just over $2 billion. Shares of the company started trading last Thursday at an initial price of $33.75 and closed Tuesday at $41.80.
Kaspi claims to be Kazakhstan’s largest payments and fintech company, with over 7 million monthly users from a population of an estimated 18 million. Its catchall “Super App” for payments, loans and banking has, it claims, played an increasingly “integral part of people’s daily lives in Kazakhstan” as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated “consumer adoption of cashless payments, e-Commerce and digital financial services,” according to a company statement before the IPO.
Kaspi earned $515 million in net income on $1.3 billion in revenue in 2019, according to its prospectus. And the company appears to have flourished during the pandemic, netting $286 million in profits on just over $740 million in revenue in the first half of 2020, per the prospectus. The IPO was “the largest London listing by a company from Kazakhstan since 2007 and is the largest international technology-focused IPO in London this year to date,” says Ayuna Nechaeva, head of Europe at the London Stock Exchange.
Similar to U.K. fintech firm Revolut (which is led by billionaire Nik Storonsky), Kaspi enables digital payment transactions, merchant transactions and consumer finance and deposits, including a buy-now-pay-later product similar to that offered by PayPal and Klarna. In 2019 Kaspi claimed to hold the largest market share of consumer loans in Kazakhstan, amounting to 32% of the total market share.
For payments in Kazakhstan Kaspi is now eating into Visa and MasterCard’s market share. In June this year Kaspi.kz-processed transactions accounted for 66% of total processed payment volumes in Kazakhstan according to their posted results online.
Kaspi started life in 2011 as a bill payments and e-Wallet solution before opening up its marketplace platform for traders and online consumer finance offering in 2014. In 2017 the company added a mobile app, plus person-to-person transfers by card or by phone number.
While a number of leading fintechs have lost users and revenue during the lockdown, Kaspi has gone from strength to strength as people rapidly adopted a technology solution for a human problem outside of their control.
In June Kazakh online news platform Kazpravda.kz reported that Kaspi CEO Lomtadze had been awarded the “People’s Gratitude” medal by the President of Kazakhstan for his “selfless work” during the pandemic.
Lomtadze told Kazpravda that Kaspi staff “worked day and night” so that new customers could open accounts and “receive much-needed social payments during the state of emergency.” He said 4.4 million people received payments online through Kaspi’s mobile app out of a total 7 million payments provided by the state during the pandemic.
A spokesman for Kaspi confirmed the shareholding of each of the cofounders but had no comment yet on the billionaire status of the firm’s founders.