The EBRD is acquiring a 10 per cent-stake in the bank card services provider Millikart LLC, a company currently owned by 18 private banks operating in Azerbaijan.
Millikart provides clearing and settlement services for credit and debit cards issued by local banks in Azerbaijan. The company focuses on providing a wide range of quality services at affordable prices to improve the scope, quality and efficiency of cash withdrawals at cash machines and payments at point-of-sale devices.
Private banks and individuals are expected to benefit from greater competition in a market currently dominated by one single, state-owned player. Millikart is a young, quickly expanding company which subscribes to international best practice and corporate governance. The EBRD will be represented at the company’s board with a director.
The EBRD’s investment will strengthen the company’s capital base, support its further growth and improve its efficiency. The project is complemented with technical assistance of up to €250,000 for the implementation of an institution building plan.
Timothy Frost, EBRD Director Non-Bank Financial Institutions, said the investment “demonstrates the Bank’s commitment to the development of the financial markets infrastructure in Azerbaijan. Widening card payments by businesses and the general public will increase the flexibility, liquidity and transparency of capital flows.”
The EBRD investment is provided through the Shareholder Special Fund because of its importance to the development of the financial markets infrastructure in Azerbaijan. The Shareholder Special Fund was approved by the EBRD Board of Governors at the Annual Meeting 2008. The €115 million-fund is used to complement the assistance of around €80 million a year that has traditionally been contributed by EBRD donor countries. Projects are focused on the Caucasus countries, Central Asia and the Western Balkans region.