Maksat Ishenbaev about Oleg Tinkov, crypto currency and financial literacy


From December 1, 2017, Maksat Ishenbaev became the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Bai Tushum Bank. Correspondent of news agency “” talked with the economist about whether something will change in the bank with his arrival. Besides, we learnt what Maksat Ishenbaev thinks of Oleg Tinkov, why should banks raise financial literacy and is it worth investing in the crypto currency.

For the banking sphere, he is not a new person. The work experience of Maksat Ishenbaev in this market is more than 20 years. He started his work at the National Bank. And then moved to “Energobank”, which was then almost bankrupt. For a short period, the financial institution was able to lead the way. Later he headed Zalkar Bank and Ayu Garant insurance company. And now Maksat Ishenbaev heads “Bai Tushum” bank.

– What experience have you learnt from previous jobs? What are you planning to apply in the bank?

– In my opinion, in order the company to be successful, it is important to build an inviting atmosphere in the institution. The energy of employees should be directed not at infighting, but at creating and solving external problems. My main approach – and I think that the bank’s employees have already made sure of this – is that I place my mutual respect and full trust among the staff members.

One of the important factors of success in our time is staff training. We need constant investment in improving their skills, as well as creating favorable conditions in the institution. And not only financially, but also non-financially, such as joint sports, social and other events. This is the only way to create a professional team that will lay to heart for the success of the organization. And it does not matter if it is a state company, a ministry, a department or a private institution.

– What is the difference between “Bai Tushum” and other banks? What unique products does it offer or should offer?

– Banks are almost the same in terms of technology and products. But the future of any bank – is the development of services through the Internet, mobile phones and other remote service channels. Today the advanced customers do not want to waste their time visiting banks’ offices, wait in queues. They want to receive banking services at any time and in any place.

On the example of the “Tinkoff” bank, whose business model is being watched by a lot of people, we, most likely, will not open new branches and make significant investments in this direction. But in early May, we will open a new office in Bishkek to service VIP-clients under the brand “BTB Business”.

– What do you personally think of Oleg Tinkov? Which one of his ideas can be applied in Kyrgyzstan?

– Of all the professions, I admire entrepreneurs the most. For the most part, they sacrifice almost everything they have for the prosperity of their business. And that’s why I adore Tinkov. As soon as his book “I’m like everyone else” appeared on the shelves, I immediately read it in one breath. I realized that this is just a talent, a born businessman. Everything he takes on, turns into gold. He founded a business, then he sold it with profit. And I really like it. Only when selling a business you can find out its real price. I believe that you need to be prepared at any time to sell a business, if it is offered an attractive price.

In our country there are a lot of talented entrepreneurs who have already gone beyond the domestic market. And I am sure: if in Kyrgyzstan there were more businessmen like Tinkov, the economic situation of the country would have significantly improved.

– In the Russian market, when evaluating innovations in the banking sector, besides Tinkoff Bank, they often talk about Sberbank. What do you think about the initiatives of German Gref?

– Our entire team of “Bai Tushum” closely follows the development of Sberbank. I like German Gref. In my opinion, he’s a man from the outer space. I thought that it is unrealistic to turn such a machine as Sberbank to the market rails and make it technological. But, seeing how they move, you understand that everything is possible. This can be applied in Kyrgyzstan as well. I like that Sberbank also actively applies the practice of organizing the work of small groups of agile-teams. We will also apply this to ourselves. We will try to make the bank innovative and effective for clients.

–  What is your assessment of the level of financial literacy in the country?

– In my opinion the level of financial literacy of the population is increasing each year. Now there are a lot of programs that are carried out by the NBKR and financial institutions, special books on financial literacy are being published, including in Kyrgyz language. Banks, in turn, began to actively participate in programs to increase the financial literacy of the population, helping the National Bank. But at the same time, a large part of the population of Kyrgyzstan still has a low level of financial literacy. This issue is especially acute in the regions.

— How is it possible to change the situation?

— Financial literacy needs to be taught from a school bench, to teach children what money is, how to manage it. This is something that needs to be paid special attention on a par with modern technology and programming. I am glad that the Ministry of Education plans to introduce financial literacy lessons into the school curriculum in the near future.

“Bai Tushum” Bank actively conducts various activities that contribute to improving the financial literacy of the population. From 12 to 18 March, as part of the Global Money Week, our staff conducted trainings in 68 schools throughout Kyrgyzstan on the topic “Money matters matter” and “Savings”. Almost 5 thousand schoolchildren took part in those trainings. In addition, on March 12, a contest of drawings among schoolchildren was held, which we conducted together with the Institute for Development Policy. We collected more than 900 drawings. And on March 20 an exhibition opened in the Museum of Fine Arts, where we the winners were awarded. The exhibition will last until April 4.




– What do you think of bitcoin, blockchain, crypto currencies?

– I am wary of them. There are already miners in Kyrgyzstan. They come here because there is a fairly low cost of electricity in comparison with other countries.

But our citizens do not yet have to think hard about crypto currencies. This is quite expensive; special equipment that will allow “extracting” bitcoins is necessary. At the same time, the market is very volatile and risky. I would not advise anyone, except professionals, to go there.

First of all, in our market you cannot do anything with bitcoins, you cannot buy anything. For many people, it is a tool for investing. I believe there are safer tools for these purposes. If we talk about risk, then only from the beginning of 2018, criminals stole about 1.3 billion in the crypto currency. And experts say that if the sphere does not become more transparent and safer, then by the end of the year more than 3.2 billion in the crypto currency can be stolen. Despite this, a crypto currency has a future. We see that central banks in many countries are beginning to regulate this market, making it safer. But while in our country this market is unregulated, it is better for non-professionals not to take risks.

— Has the work schedule changed with changing-over to work in the bank? Do you have time for hobbies?

– Of course, there is more work and responsibilities, but the schedule remained approximately the same as in the previous job. My main hobby is football, but here I began to play it even more often than before. The bank has its own football team, and now we are actively preparing for the inter-bank championship. Fortunately the new work does not hinder me in my last hobby – vocal. I ski in winter on weekends, in spring and autumn I play golf and ride horses, I love motorcycles.

— What values do you teach your children? Do you teach financial literacy?

— “As soon as Robert Kiyosaki’s book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” came out, I read it. There he wrote that he had just released the game Cash Flow for children. I immediately bought it, and my daughters at least understand what assets and liabilities are. In believe I taught the basics. But because of age, girls still want to dress fashionably and look good, this does not go away. As for the other aspects of education, I have always tried to make sure that they have as little free time as possible. My oldest daughter is a candidate for master of sports in rhythmic gymnastics. And the younger daughter is creative person, she studies in a music school. And, of course, my wife and I instilled in them universal values: respect for the elders, for the parents, compassion for the neighbor.

— What kind of books do you read?

— Different books. In my young days, I loved adventure books, later I began to like historical novels, then more professional ones – about management, marketing, finance. In these days, I’m reading a real guru in management Yitzhak Adizes, and even have a desire to invite his company to consult our bank. Recently I read B.King’s book “Bank 3.0”, in my opinion today it should be on the table of every banker. Well, I love books on self-improvement and development. Michael Roach is on the first place here.