E-commerce Sees Growth in Kazakhstan After Pandemic as Digital Economy Becomes New Reality

NUR-SULTAN – The digital economy is becoming a new reality, where online purchases and payments by card or via smartphone are part of people’s daily routine in Kazakhstan. Online commerce is gaining momentum, with the volume of online retail sales reaching 482 billion tenge (US$1 billion) in 2021.

In 2020, Kazakhstan witnessed a double increase in online purchases, largely due to the movement restrictions imposed on the population because of the pandemic. 

Globally, according to the latest data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the dramatic rise in e-commerce back in 2020 was sustained in 2021, with online sales continuing to increase despite the easing of restrictions in many countries.

Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city, stands impressively ahead of other cities in terms of the volume of online retail sales – 272.8 billion tenge (US$607.4 million), or 56.6 percent. Next comes Nur-Sultan with 49.2 billion tenge (US$109.5 million), and Shymkent with 29.5 billion tenge (US$65.7 million).

With the development of new technologies, the choice of products that one can buy online has also significantly increased. According to Ranking.kz analytical website, almost one-fifth of the total volume of online retailing in 2021 is accounted for by phones. Next among the most popular goods purchased online are household appliances, cosmetics, computers, car parts, and construction materials.

An increase in broadband internet coverage also pushed online sales up. According to Ranking.kz, as of April 2022, there were more than 17 million cellular subscribers with access to the internet, and 2.8 million registered fixed internet subscribers. 

The volume of non-cash payments also rose impressively. At the end of the first quarter of 2022, the volume reached 19.1 trillion tenge (US$42.5 billion), which exceeds the 2019 entire year level by 43 percent.

“Even though the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictive measures have accelerated the transition from cash to non-cash payments, the active demand for non-cash payment methods began earlier. Since the first quarter of 2019, we have seen an increase in the amount due to payments through POS terminals,” said the PwC report in April. 

The global lockdown, the boom in online deliveries, work from home and the development of innovative technologies changed consumer behavior, said the report. 

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