The rise of digital banking in Kazakhstan

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Digital banking is becoming the norm for people and businesses across the UK, US and beyond – but did you know it’s also growing rapidly in Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest country? Internet banking penetration is forecast to reach 23% in 2024, not far behind some European countries, but this only tells part of the story.

A geographic necessity

Digital banking brings with it unique benefits for a country with the demography and geography of Kazakhstan. First of all, Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world by landmass, with a population density of just 7 people per square kilometer, one of the lowest in the world. While the majority of people in Kazakhstan live in urban areas, as of 2022 44% do not – meaning there are millions of Kazakhs with limited access to cash and physical banking services.

A lack of access to financial infrastructure has a chilling effect on rural economies, depressing investment and employment. The digital banking offer of banks like Jusan is therefore a lifeline for those living in the less accessible parts of the country, and a key part of economic development.

Rapid growth

The uptake of digital banking services in Kazakhstan has been fast-paced. In 2017 when the data was first collected, 54% of people in Kazakhstan had made a payment online, which grew to 78% by 2021. During the same timeframe, the proportion of people making purchases via mobile devices more than doubled, and the volume of cashless transactions exploded from US$5bn to more than US$150bn.

Supercharging business

Digital banking has traditionally started with retail customers – typically a less complex customer to develop services for. Under the direction of our new Chairman of the Board of Directors, Galimzhan Yessenov, alongside our well-established digital retail banking offer, we have been focused in recent years on building our suite of digital banking services aimed at businesses and entrepreneurs.

We believe resolving inefficiencies in business banking is a major way we can contribute to our clients and to overall economic growth. The Jusan Business banking app has been deliberately designed to smooth the user journey for businesses, end to end – enabling everything from registration and incorporation, managing payment terminals, accounting and taxation, and of course deposits and transactions within the same business banking super app.

Our user feedback on this approach has been strong – as of 2023 Jusan Bank’s business app was the most popular business banking app in Kazakhstan, and was listed as one of the top 30 apps overall in Kazakhstan by Markswebb, a market research company.

Democratizing investment

Beyond retail and business banking services, digital banking infrastructure is also underpinning the rapid uptake of retail investment in Kazakhstan, opening a major route to wealth building for consumers. According to Kazakhstan’s Agency for Regulation and Development of the Financial Market, the number of retail investment accounts more than doubled from 218,000 in 2021 to 581,000 in 2022. Spurred by legislative reforms in 2020, digital infrastructure is now enabling regular customers to access what was previously the reserve of financial institutions and institutional investors.

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