The period of departure from socialism, when the economy of independent Kazakhstan was compelled for a short time to assemble into an integrated system, became especially troublesome for the emerging banking sector. After the decision to switch to a market economy, 230 banks appeared at once in the country, the number of which has been reduced to 34. By the early years of their existence, they were engaged in currency speculation, small loans and payments, and their working conditions were full of impulsive uncertainty
Together with independence Kazakhstan, the National Bank set the task of introducing international standards of accountability and regulation. In 1995-96, the main work was carried out to consolidate financial institutions. In the year the regulator selected 30-40 licenses and, according to economists , reduced the issue of new ones to a minimum. By 2004, the reforms that led to the withdrawal of superfluous players from the market, and some of them consolidated into larger institutions, led to an increase in the sector’s assets by six times. However, their increased concentration did not make banks the main lending engine of the economy.
By the mid-2000s, only 35-40 large corporate borrowers were formed in Kazakhstan, and the competition for their financing instantly became high. But most of them preferred government development institutions and Western creditors. They offered rather low rates relative to Kazakhstan banks, which sold loans at 12-14%. The strengthening of the tenge as a result of the rise in oil prices and the current business environment did not allow the manufacturing industry and the high-tech sector to grow substantially. Therefore, banks have concentrated on lending retail and small and medium-sized businesses.
According to the statistical bulletin of the National Bank, by the end of 2005 the credit portfolio of banks amounted to 2.59 trillion tenge. More than a third of loans (35.5%) were directed to the non-production sector and individual entrepreneurs. The second in size was the sphere of trade, which received 24.6% of all loan funds. Industry accounted for only 16.8% of total loans. Subsequently, these areas have become the main for the credit activity of most banks.