Find out how to pay in Kazakhstan and which payment methods Kazakhs prefer
This time, PaySpace Magazine would like to talk about payments in Kazakhstan. This is, actually, not the only article about payments in different regions and countries, and you can also check our latest articles on payment markets in Uzbekistan and Georgia in case you haven’t read them.
Kazakhstan is a big country, and you have surely heard of it. As for me, Kazakhstan has the grandeur of mountain peaks, huge glaciers, quiet forest twilight, mysterious deserts, huge rocky canyons, emerald lakes, rapidly running rivers, the poetry of sunlight, and a unique animal and plant world. This is the country of one of the most ancient civilizations of the Eurasian continent. Moreover, Kazakhstan is the birthplace of nomadic tribes and a considerable part of the Great Silk Road.
Kazakhstan is a large country, and it is one of the ten largest states in the world by area. To be precise, the total area of the country is 2.72 million square kilometers, which makes it the ninth-largest country in the world. Kazakhstan owns a part of the largest lake in the world – the Caspian Sea, and a part of the notorious Aral Sea. Such a variety of landscapes guarantees a rich natural world in the country.
Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia. On the north and west, Kazakhstan borders with Russia, on the southeast – with China, on the south – with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
As for the economy, the hydrocarbon industry and oil production are the basis of Kazakhstan’s economy. Moreover, Kazakhstan has the largest and strongest economy in Central Asia.
Kazakh market basics
According to official statistics, today, 18.6M people live in Kazakhstan. Given the size of the country, Kazakhstan is one of the least densely populated countries in the world (about 7 people/km2). Moreover, the urbanization level in the country is 57%. According to datareportal.com, as of the end of 2019, about 14.73M Kazakhs used the internet, which means internet penetration is 79%.
According to Newzoo’s Global Mobile Market Report, in 2018, 64.9% of Kazakhstan residents (approximately 11.94M) had smartphones. On the other hand, datareportal.com says that the number of mobile subscriptions in Kazakhstan was estimated to exceed 25.45M, which means 136% of the population has a mobile phone connection (meaning some residents have more than one mobile subscription).
What’s more, 9.5M people are active social media users, and according to different sources, 80 – 95% of them use mobile devices to access social networks. The top 5 most visited websites in Kazakhstan according to Alexa ranking are google.com, youtube.com, vk.com, mail.ru, and nur.kz.
According to data.worldbank.org, GDP per capita PPP in Kazakhstan was $27,879 in 2018, and some other sources (i.e. tradingeconomics.com and indexmundi.com) have figures that vary from $24,700 to $28,500.
As of 2019, the most popular payment options in Kazakhstan were:
- Credit cards
- Qiwi wallet, one of the most widely used payment systems across CIS countries.
- Web Money, e-wallet that works with multiple currencies (Bitcoin as well) in various locations around the world.
- Yandex money, developed in Russia, and it is highly popular in CIS countries.
- Mobiamo, a mobile payment solution and helps clients carry out payments via mobile devices in no less than 65 countries.
- Mint, whose prepaid card is a secure and intuitive cash payment option.
Nowadays, Kazakhstan is a kind of progressive country, if we are talking about payments, and it is aiming at online and contactless payments. However, in some ways, Kazakhstan is still considered as a conservative country in payment terms. Mostly, Kazakhs pay with cash or banking cards. Mobile payments and eWallets are still not the most popular ways to pay for purchases there, but the situation can change within the next 5 – 10 years.
Now let’s talk about payments for tourists. Visa and MasterCard international plastic cards are the most popular cards in terms of payment systems there. Mostly, in big cities, you can pay with a card or a contactless payment device since a lot of places are endowed with POS terminals. However, it can be challenging to use a cashless payment option in a small town (maybe it will work in some big restaurants, hotels, or supermarkets).
As for ATMs, you will easily find an ATM in a big city (this is also true for airports, hotels, and major sightseeing places), but Kazakhstan is big, and if you want to see some remote locations, be certain to have some cash with you, because finding an ATM or POS terminal in such places can be kind of challenging.
Leading payment services in Kazakhstan
Overall, there are more than 20 payment options in Kazakhstan today, which gives you a lot of options when it comes to payments.
There are four popular “old-school” payment systems:
- CyberPlat Kazakhstan is one of the oldest and biggest payment systems of Kazakhstan. In 2016, it accomplished the registration procedure in accordance with the Law “On Payments and Payment Systems”. The CyberPlat system has been operating in Kazakhstan since 2006, while the company was founded in 1997. Its payment infrastructure has more than 30,000 points, and regional offices are located in all major cities of the republic. CyberPlat provides payment acceptance for mobile and fixed-line operators, providers of wired and mobile internet, alarm systems, housing, and communal services providers, and many other services. Payment transactions are carried out in real time, and funds are credited to the account within a few seconds.
- The National Bank of Kazakhstan has recognized the Golden Crown payment system as a significant one. The Golden Crown became one of the three and (and the only Russian) payment systems that obtained the status of significant ones in Kazakhstan. The document of the National Bank of Kazakhstan states that “Golden Crown” payment system “carries out payments and/or money transfers during the year in the amount of at least twenty-five percent of the total volume of money sent through money transfer systems in the Republic of Kazakhstan and abroad and received in the Republic of Kazakhstan through money transfer systems from abroad (referred to payments and/or money transfers. ”
- The contact payment system has also officially accomplished the registration procedure in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Payments and Payment Systems”. The payment system has been providing money transfer services in Kazakhstan since 2001 and developing partnerships with banks and financial institutions of the country. The network of Contact service points in the republic has more than 400 branches, and the flagship office of the payment system operates in Astana and is based in the branch of Nurbank JSC.
- The Leader payment system complied with the requirements of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Payments and Payment Systems” in 2016, and was included in the register of systems authorized to provide payment services in the country.
Alternative payment methods
This is what you can use in Kazakhstan when it comes to payment gateways and payment acceptance:
- PayPal Express Checkout
- Coinbase Commerce
- Splitit Monthly Payments
On the other hand, if you run a small online business and desire to receive payments, you can also consider these options:
- Interkassa is a payment system that allows online stores, sites, and other trading platforms to accept all possible forms of payment as soon as possible. The system offers more than 50 payment instruments and operates in 5 currency zones: UAH, RUB, USD, EUR, and GEL.
- FREE-KASSA is a payment acceptance service that allows websites (online stores) and service providers to accept payments from customers in any electronic currency, via SMS, through money/bank transfers, through payment terminals, and Visa and MasterCard bank cards.
- Wallet One is a payment acceptance service for online stores. It provides you over 114 payment methods for your site, convenient tools for working with the major store instruments and rates, such as reports, statistics, and much more.
- Robakassa is a payment system service, which would help you accept payments from customers on your site using banking cards, in any electronic currency, using mobile commerce services, payments through a bank or payment terminals, and much more. The system has been operating since 2003 and has established itself as a highly reliable service for receiving payments.
- Payeer is an international transfer payment system, which allows you to send payments even to a recipient that is not registered in the system. It has dozens of international payment methods, and you can receive payments from customers from 200+ countries. The system has 2 major sections: for individuals, and for business; this implies the system has various tariffs, and the ability to pay: on Visa and MasterCard cards in USD, EUR, RUB; on banking accounts in 224 countries in USD, EUR, RUB; on Payeer electronic wallets.
How to pay
Kazakhstani tenge is the only official currency of Kazakhstan (ISO 4217: KZT), and the only legal means of payment. Officially, it was put into circulation in 1993.
The subunit of tenge is tin.
Current coins are: 1, 2 (both rarely used), 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 tenge.
Current banknotes are: 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 tenge.