Qiwi Finds Niche in Cash Bill-Paying Biz

Jacob Harper  |

On April 29 we took a closer look at a payment processing company with a highly unusual business model. While paying bills online has become the societal norm, Qiwi plc (QIWI) does the exact opposite, providing kiosks that allow people to pay their bills in one place, with cash.

While Qiwi has stumbled this year, losing almost half their value, their fundamentals showed signs of promise. That promise was realized on May 21, when the company issued an earnings report that saw the company ratchet up expected profitability, surpising analysts.

Their success is certainly surpirsing, as it seems somewhat quaint for a company to succeed by offering a service that relies on good old-fashioned paper currency. But Qiwi’s users aren’t seeking nostalgia. Rather, they’re seeking safety.

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While paying bills online has become commonplace, doing so does leave a trail of credit card numbers and personal information that can be exploited by unscrupulous hackers. This danger is especially acute in Russia, where Qiwi is based and predominantly operates.

This fear of digital identity theft has sparked a return to cash payments, and contributed to relative throwbacks like Qiwi’s success. Even as established payment processors like eBay’s (EBAY) Paypal move into Russia, Qiwi has established a foothold in a curious, albeit necessary, market niche.

In their earnings report, the Moscow-based Qiwi both bested analyst estimates and raised guidance for the fiscal year, from 25 to 27 percent growth to 27 to 29 percent growth. The company’s board also recommended a dividend payout of 29 cents a share to stockholders of record as of June 1, payable on June 3.

For their first quarter 2014 earnings, Qiwi reported a net gain of $19.19 million, or $0.37 per share, versus the net gain of $9.9 million, or $0.19 per share, from the same period a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $52.60 million, as compared to $41.3 million from the previous year. Analysts were expecting a net gain of $0.29 per share on revenues of $44.24 million.

Shares of Qiwi leapt as a result of the earnings beat and raised earnings expectations. By 1:30 EST the company’s stock had risen 18.65 percent to hit $41.42 a share.

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