Russia’s answer to PayPal aims to raise $100 million in a U.S. public offering

Oiwi Plc enables merchants to accept cash and electronic payments in Russia.

Katie Evans

Oiwi Plc, a Russian payment provider that enables merchants to accept cash and electronic payments, is looking to raise $100 million in an initial public offering in the U.S., according to a filing submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group AG and Renaissance Capital are managing the sale on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The company helps merchants accept payments in stores, online and on mobile devices.  The company has deployed 11 million virtual wallets for consumers in Russia and countries that make up the former Soviet Union through a program with Visa Inc., according to the filing. The filing says it also operates 169,000 kiosks and terminals and enables 40,000 merchants to accept more than $1.26 billion in cash and electronic payments monthly from over 65 million consumers.

Oiwi plans to use the funds to grow its business including entering new countries, attracting more merchants and consumers to use its services and to drive growth of its virtual wallet and prepaid cards. It also plans to make the Visa Qiwi wallet a global online and mobile payment processing and money transfer service that any Visa member bank can offer its customers. The company recently began offering its services in the United States, Brazil, Romania and Belarus.

Oiwi currently operates in regions where payments are mainly in cash, and its service enables consumers to use cash, stored value and other electronic payment methods to pay for goods and services in stores or online. Through its network of kiosks and terminals, virtual wallets and payment services, consumers can deposit cash, convert it into a digital form and store the funds in a virtual wallet, on a variety of Visa-branded prepaid cards or transmit funds to a merchant. Consumers use the service to shop online or at a retail store and to buy digital services, as well as to pay bills or purchase transportation tickets.

Oiwi says its mix of cash and electronic payment offerings puts it in a prime position for growth in Russia and surrounding countries. Russia remains a cash-dominated society for retail consumer payments with approximately 94% of the value of payments exchanged in cash in 2011, according to a report from Edgar, Dunn & Co. The penetration of electronic payment services, such as credit and debit cards and point of sale terminals, lags behind more developed economies, the report says.

But many Russians use the web. Russia has the largest online audience in Europe with 61.3 million web users, or 15% of Europe’s total of 408.3 million, web measurement firm comScore Inc. says. The research firm also notes that, after Italy, Russia has Europe’s second-fastest growing online population, up 15% from about 53.3 million in December 2011.


e-commerce, e-retail, IPO, mobile commerce, NASDAQ, Russia, virtual wallet, Visa