Central Asia region

  • The countries of Central Asia are all predominantly remittance-receiving markets.
  • Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have significant outflows.
  • As members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and previously part of the Soviet Union, the 5 countries in this region have strong economic links with the Russian Federation.
Predominantly receiving countries
Kyrgyz Republic
Predominantly sending countries
Migration Sources: UNDESA 2017
  • Russia is the main destination or originating country for people moving to and from countries of Central Asia.
  • As of 2017, more than 7 million people from this subregion have migrated, with the vast majority moving to the Russian Federation (65 per cent) due to the economic strength of the Russian Federation’s economy.
  • Most people travel as economic migrants and for a number of countries, particularly Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, many citizens move on a temporary basis and return home frequently.
  • Both immigration and emigration remain rather stable over time, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2010 and 2017 of 0.5 and 0.7 per cent, respectively.
Immigrants to Central Asia 2010 2017 CAGR1 2010-2017(%)
Total 5,262,414 5,462,972 0.5
From all Asia and the Pacific 549,901 604,432 1.4
Emigrants from Central Asia 2010 2017 CAGR 2010-2017 (%)
Total 7,259,097 7,648,252 0.7
To all Asia and the Pacific 642,127 622,880 -0.4
Remittances (millions of US$) Sources: WB, Remittances bilateral matrix 2016
  • In 2016 the countries of Central Asia received USD 6.6 billion in remittances with Russia accounting for 85 percent of the volume.
  • Russia is also one of the main out corridors for send countries of Central Asia
  • Kazakhstan is the main send markets in the sub-region sending more than US$ two billion.
  • Central Asia has two of the most remittance reliant countries in the world and as such remittances make up 30.4 percent of Kyrgyz Republic’s GDP and 28.9 per cent of Tajikistan’s.
Inflows to Central Asia (US$ million) 2014 2017 CAGR 2014-2017 (%)
From Asia and the Pacific523379-10.2
Largest inflows > US$ billion
Main receive countries from the sub-region
Kyrgyz Republic2.5
Outflows from Central Asia (US$ million) 2014 2017 CAGR 2014-2017 (%)
Total 4,550 4,617 0.2
To Asia and the Pacific 466 406-1.9
Largest outflows > US$ billion
Main receive countries from the sub-region
Inflows origin
Russian Federation6.7
Outflows destination
Russian Federation2.5
Remittance reliant countries with remittance/GDP > 3% (2016)
Kyrgyz Republic 30.4%
Costs Sources: WB RPW Q1 2018
  • Remittance transfers to Central Asia are the most competitive in the world with the average cost to receive remittances being 3.14 percent  in Q1 2018 which represents an increase of 1.1 percentage points since 2015.
  • It makes the region one of the few that has met the SDG 10.c target of being below 3 percent already.
  • The low prices have been achieved due to the competitive nature of the Russia outbound market and because transactions are normally paid out in roubles and therefore there is no foreign exchange cost for consumers.

Receiving End Content



Costs to receive US$200 (% of amount sent)
Costs to send $200
Market operators Sources: RemitScope survey 2018
  • The global money transfer companies, Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria, have a low market share and the market is dominated by the strong Russian regional players, in particular Zolotaya Korona (Golden Crown) and Unistream.
  • Other Russian companies, such as Contact, Blitzko and Leader also participate and this ensures that the market is highly competitive.
Presence at the receiving end
Global MTO Number of countries where these companies are present (among the 5 Central Asia countries)
  Western Union
5 out of 5
  Money Gram
5 out of 5
2 out of 5
  Small World
2 out of 5
Regional MTO Number of countries where these companies are present (among the 5 Central Asia countries)
5 out of 5
4 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
  Zolotaya Korona
3 out of 5
Main types of RSP
Receiving end
Bank (ATM)
Post offices
Mobile money providers
Other NBFI
Agent networks
Sending end


Dominant Significant Emerging Marginal and/or not applicable
Transfer methods
  • The market is dominated by cash-to-cash payments.
  • Whilst a number of operators, such as Zolotaya Korona and Unistream accept bank transfers and digital payments on the sending side nearly every pay-out is made in cash.
  • A number of agency based mobile pay-out services are currently being developed in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.


Dominant Significant Emerging Marginal and/or not applicable
  • The low prices for sending to Central Asia are in spite of a restricted regulatory regime in the sub-region.
  • Banks are the only entities able to pay-out in all countries whilst the post office and MTOs are permitted to do so in most of the markets.
  • Four out of the five countries allow the use of agents.
  • Regulations are evolving, but there are currently no examples of MNOs being able to offer services and digital currency payments are totally absent.
Types of entities allowed to distributed remittances Sources: RemitScope survey 2018
Number of countries
5 out of 5
3 out of 5
  Use of agents
4 out of 5
  Digital currency
0 out of 5
0 out of 5
Incidence of de-risking policies affecting remittance service providers
  • Central Asia is a region that has not been impacted by derisking, primarily due to the originating corridors (mainly Russia) and because it is bank dominated for paying-out transactions.
Low   Average   High  
INCLUSIVE FINANCIAL SERVICESSources: Findex survey 2014 (Pacific region countries not available)
  • Central Asia has a low financial inclusion rate of 25 percent
  • Due to the importance of remittances to the region a number of initiatives have been undertaken to harness the potential of remittances including Financial Inclusion and Access to Financial Services for Remittance Receivers conducted by EBRD which was undertaken in three countries in the region.
Account ownership among the adult population +15 year old (%) Sources: Findex survey 2017 (Pacific region countries not available)
Average for Central Asia
Average Asia region
Adult population receiving domestic remittances and patterns to receive money
Average adult population receiving domestic remittances (%) 18.7
In person and in cash (%) 39  
Over the counter(%) 27.7  
Through a financial institution (%) 28.8  
1 Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)