15 Nov 2023 10:17

Qiwi shutting down separate app in Uzbekistan, moving clients to unified app

TASHKENT. Nov 15 (Interfax) - Qiwi , a leading Russian payment services provider is closing its app in Uzbekistan as of December 18, Qiwi Uzbekistan reported on Tuesday.

"The Qiwi Uzbekistan app will stop working on December 18. The usual services will now be available in the unified Qiwi app. Only your Uzbek telephone number will be needed to create a new wallet in rubles or [Kazakh] tenge," the company said.

The company said Qiwi wallets in Uzbekistan currently have very limited features, providing access only to payments for local services and transfers to the cards of local banks. However, almost 90% of users previously used the wallets to pay for foreign services and make international transfers.

"These options are now inaccessible due to restrictions imposed by the Central Bank of Uzbekistan (CBU) on all payment systems. Therefore, we decided to close the Qiwi Uzbekistan app," the company said.

The company warned customers that they need to quickly transfer funds out of their wallets and that starting November 16 a commission of UZS75,000 (about $6 at current exchange rate) per day will be charged for keeping money in their wallets.

"This is necessary because the Qiwi Uzbekistan app is closing and we cannot hold the money of our clients. Please hurry. After December 18 you will have to write a request to transfer money from the wallet balance. We therefore recommend transferring money as soon as possible," the company said.

Qiwi Uzbekistan was included in the list of services subject to restrictions on money transfers in the country at the beginning of September. The CBU said that the suspension of foreign money transfers through payment systems in Uzbekistan is aimed at protecting the country's financial system, and that payment services' involvement in cross-border transfers contravenes Uzbek law.

The CBU registered Qiwi Uzbekistan in November 2021 and included it in the registry of electronic money systems. According to the registry, the issuer of electronic money is Uzbekistan's Uzum Bank and the operator of the system is PaySys.

Money transfers in Uzbekistan are an important source of income for the families of migrant workers, many of whom work in Russia. Cross-border money transfers to Uzbekistan fell 21.2% to $5.2 billion in the first half of 2023, CBU data showed.

The official exchange rate was UZS12,281.14/$1 on November 14.