Halyk Opposes State Plan to Take Over Card Processing, CEO Says

Kazakhstan’s Halyk Savings Bank opposes plans to transfer the processing of electronic-card transactions to the state, its chief executive officer said.

“Our position is clearly against,” Umut Shayakhmetova told reporters in Almaty, the country’s commercial capital, where the bank is based. The central bank should focus on cleansing bad debt from Kazakh lenders rather than spend “wild money” on creating a card-processing center, she said.

Halyk, which earned 5.43 billion tenge ($36 million) from card commissions last year, up 24 percent from 2011, controls more than a fifth of the central Asian nation’s card market, according to Shayakhmetova. The proposed state center would cost about $100 million, she said.

The central bank’s plan is aimed at lowering transaction fees for cardholders, Chairman Grigori Marchenko said May 17. Kazakhstan, which tapped its National Oil Fund to prop up banks in 2007-2009 as foreign funding dried up, is also creating a state-owned pension fund unifying retirement assets currently held by commercial lenders.

Kazkommertsbank, the country’s second largest lender by assets behind Halyk, said May 24 that it also apposes the card-processing center.

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