Russian Payment Provider QIWI Is Coming to America

If you live in Russia or Kazakhstan — and if so, there’s a good chance you’re not reading this article — there’s a good chance you’re a customer of payment service firm QIWI.

Now, though, the company should gain a little more familiarity in America, where it plans to off an IPO.

QIWI, which likely will hit markets within a few weeks, operates a multichannel platform that includes kiosks, websites and mobile apps. QIWI boasts more than 11 million virtual wallets deployed, and more than 40,000 merchants accept payments from the system.

Unlike other countries, Russia and Kazakhstan are generally cash-based societies, making a solution like QIWI a no-brainer. It makes it extremely easy to store cash — with a Visa (NYSE:V) branded prepaid card — and electronically transfer it. Some of the more popular applications include the purchase of mobile phone minutes, bus tickets and e-commerce transactions.

A key part of the growth strategy has been QIWI’s agent model. The company recruits people to buy and operate kiosks, which are usually near high-traffic, convenient retail locations.  The agents, which number more than 9,300, get a piece of the transaction fees.

All in all, QIWI has been growing at a nice pace. From 2010 to 2012, revenues increased 43% to 8.9 billion rubles, or $293 million U.S. The company also generates substantial amounts of cash flows; last year, EBITDA soared 81% to 1.5 billion rubles.

QIWI plans to use the IPO proceeds to expand into new markets, including Moldova, Romania, Belarus, Brazil … and even the United States.

As for the IPO, QIWI plans to list on the Nasdaq with the blatantly obvious symbol “QIWI.” Lead underwriters include JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS).

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook. He is also the author of “How to Create the Next Facebook” and “High-Profit IPO Strategies: Finding Breakout IPOs for Investors and Traders.”Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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