Tim Bennett: Kazakhstan has a tremendous investment potential
Formed in 2017, Astana International Exchange (AIX) is part of the Astana International Financial Center’s development, with the first trading session launched on 14 Nov. 2018. AIX’s shareholders include AIFC, Goldman Sachs, Shanghai Stock Exchange, the Silk Road Fund and NASDAQ. The Strategy2050.kz website presents a brief interview with AIX’s CEO Tim Bennett about Kazakhstan, the AIFC’s development as a financial center.
– What it’s like to work in Kazakhstan?
– Very talented people, a really close-knit team that we’ve built. And highly educated. Really happy with the team we’ve built. It is a similar set of challenges which need to encourage people to want to grow their businesses. And that’s why I am here.
– About the businesses, are they thriving here?
– There is a tremendous potential here, like in a lot of emerging economies.
– And mostly in what sectors?
– In mining, obviously, in sub-soil industries. What I see is hard work in innovations in the banking sector. Some very innovative banks. The AIFC has the partner organization, and a couple of interesting projects there. I think the real advantage for Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region, is that the languages are good as they provide competitive advantages. So, it is a good opportunity and very talented people. And I see a lot of interesting projects that are happening around here.
– In recent years, popularity of e-money, Bitcoins increasingly grows. How this affects the AIFC?
– We focus on how we can help the real economy, that is traditional money. Yes, there is a lot of innovation around Bitcoin. What we see is the opportunities not only around Bitcoins, but also the underlining technology blockchain. NASDAQ is our technology partner, both working on the blockchain technology for trading and clearing settlement. This is 3-5 years away, but this will make trading and settlement infrastructure much more efficient. A lot of technologies are moving into the Cloud, and we are using the Cloud technology for lots of parts of our businesses.
– That means the blockchain technology will be used in the future?
– Yes, in the future. Blockchain is conceptually quite simple, but to put in the financial service productional environment is quite difficult to do. We have complicated businesses.
– How can the currency devaluation influence on the AIFC’s work?
– Firstly, we tried in US dollars, and we have the capability to try in other currencies including RMB. What we want to do in the next few months is to try trading in other currencies as it’s important for investors both domestic and offshore. People are talking a lot about the impact of currency on evaluation of companies. Actually, it does not have a much impact. If you think of KAZATOMPROM, or KazMunayGas, they are selling their products in US dollars. Currency doesn’t have that much impact. Global investors are very sophisticated, they understand these currency fluctuations, and how they impact on companies’ value. From our perspective, as an exchange evaluation company, the currency is not such an issue for us.
– What is the potential of the AIFC?
– There is a tremendous potential. I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t potential. I’ve spend a year here, but a lot of that time we’ve spent talking with global financial managers from New Zealand, London and all around the world. I see a tremendous potential. So much investment potential here. So, our job is to make sure that we can provide those investment potentials.
– Thank you for the interview!
Source: Kazakhtan 2050