Share price of Kazakh superapp Kaspi plummets as unrest continues

The share price of Kaspi, the LSE-listed fintech super-app used by around half of the Kazakh population, has fallen sharply as the country experiences a period of turbulence.

The stock hovered at $113.80 as markets opened on Wednesday but sharply dropped to as low as $71, before recovering slightly to above $80. At the time of writing, Kaspi’s website was not accessible, likely due to widespread internet outages in the country. 

On Sunday, protests in Kazakhstan began when the government lifted a price cap on fuel. They have since intensified and, according to a BBC report, much of the anger is directed at former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has remained a powerful figure in the government since stepping down.

Kaspi made its mark in the country as a super-app offering the ability to pay bills, transfer money and pay retailers, becoming the country’s defacto payment system in the process. The company tapped into a population with a large unbanked but increasingly online population, with an average internet penetration rate of 79%. 

In October 2020, it surprised many market observers by going public in October 2020 at a $6 billion valuation. The net worth of its founders Vyacheslav Kim and Mikhail Lomtadze shot up to $2.5 billion and $2 billion respectively after the listing, which was the largest international tech IPO of 2020. 

The following month, Forbes reported on Kairat Satybaldy — the nephew of former president Nazarbayev and a leading figure in the ruling Nur Otan Party — and his relationship with the fintech. 

In 2017, according to Forbes, Satybaldy owned a 30% stake in Kaspi which he cashed out in 2019 after its first attempt to go public. Had he remained a controlling shareholder, as a politically powerful figure in Kazakhstan, the public listing would have likely drawn scrutiny from regulators. 

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