Republished here on: 23 February 2013
As appeared in the Businessworld Magazine website on 19 February 2013. By Tanuja Chatterjee
Going Digital with Gifts (BusinessWorld Web Exclusives)
Gift cards that can be operated through your smartphone may be becoming a trend globally, but in India physical digital gift cards still rule and Qwikcilver controls 80 per cent of this market. Five years after launching Qwikcilver Solutions — a Bangalore-based provider of all kinds of stored value cards — BITS Pilani pass-outs Kumar Sudarshan and T P Pratap, forayed into an online multi-brand gifting portal ‘Woohoo’ last year. They also provide digital gift card options for partner brands that can be gifted and delivered through mobile phones and emails. Talking to BW Online’s Tanuja Chatterjee, Woohoo.in, Co-founder T P Pratap discusses how the digital gift cards market is growing by leaps and bounds in India.
Why did you start Qwikcilver Solutions?
With a collective experience of over 50 years in IT, I and my co-founder Kumar Sudarshan founded QwikCilver in 2007-2008. QwikCilver has pioneered the retailer gift cards segment and leads the gift card processing market with 80 per cent of its share. QwikCilver offers gift card solutions wherein the card holder can purchase products of their choice from any brand, store and portal. Unlike gift vouchers, the gift card amount can be partially spent and recharged as per the preference of the card holder. So far, QwikCilver has partnered with over 75 leading brands like Titan, Trent-Landmark, Peter England, Allen Solly, Flipkart, Shopper’s Stop, PVR Cinemas and Café Coffee Day among others. The QwikCilver technology is deployed across more than 200 cities and towns in over 5,000 premium brand stores across the country.
How big is the gifting economy? What percentage is the voucher/ gift card market of the gifting economy?
The stored-value-cards space is still very new in India. Research studies expect the Indian Prepaid & Gift Card/Voucher market to exponentially grow from Rs 2,000 crore in 2012 to Rs 9,000 crore by 2016. Currently, the overall value of e-commerce gifting is roughly estimated as Rs 20,000 crore annually.
How has ‘Woohoo’ helped you grow?
Woohoo.in, the e-commerce initiative of QwikCilver, is India’s first fully integrated online gift card mega mall that provides a platform for various gifting choices for consumers, corporates and channel partners across India. This is the place to pick up your gift card online. It also offers gift vouchers for particular retailers or brands. Once you buy it online, it is shipped to you free of cost. The vouchers can be used online. We started it on Diwali last year. Our founding team has experience in technology development, retail, marketing and research. It is funded by global VCs Funds Helion Venture partners and Accel Partners. The company is headquartered in Bangalore.
Can you describe the way your gift card works? What are the key differentiators of your gift cards, from other companies of same nature?
We understood that our consumers sometimes find it extremely difficult to find appropriate gifts for friends and family. The existing process for purchase of a gift voucher at the best brand stores in India is tedious and cumbersome. We looked at this need-gap and decided to do something about it with a technology-backed solution. By partnering and integrating Woohoo technology across the Billing POS of the retailers across all the brand outlets and portals, retailer specific gift cards are made available at these areas. The technology enables the consumers to purchase the gift cards from these outlets, that are instantly activated by the store cashier on purchase by the consumer.
These gift cards are usable across all the brand outlets approved by the brand on the QwikCilver Technology, This technology has been developed uniquely for the Indian retail market with its intricacies and complexities like company owned stores, company managed stores, consignment stores, franchisee stores, buy & sell stores, etc.
How is it different from the paper voucher or even conventional gift vouchers? What if a gift card is stolen or misplaced, can it be re-issued?
Our gift cards are easier to carry, convenient to use, can be reloaded or recharged and partially spent. Unlike inconvenient paper gift vouchers, Qwikcilver gift cards have a magnetic strip just like a debit or credit card that provides security against misuse by another party. If the gift card is lost or stolen, the concerned brand provides a customer care number where the customer can get his card blocked. This way, when one uses the reported card, the back-end server at QwikCilver would decline the usage of the card at any outlet across India. Currently, brands do not charge any fees for genuine cases of losses proven by consumers.
How are you marketing the gift cards? Do you have tie ups with stores/ Retail brands?
We are associated with over 75 trusted and leading brands such as Trent-Landmark, Titan, Aditya Birla-Madura Garments, Shoppers Stop, Westside, Fastrack, PVR, Café Coffee Day, Arvind Brands, Raymond, Mahindra Retail, HUL-Bru Café, Flipkart, Hidesign, Puma, etc. for their gift card programmes and each of these brands promote their gift cards individually. At Woohoo.in, a customer is given a plethora of choice between gift cards as it is an exclusive online mall for gift cards.
Are your gift cards sponsored by a certain bank? How can customers purchase these gift cards?
QwikCilver Technology is a unique Closed Loop Gift Card initiative that does not require any bank relationships for the brands. All the programmes running are with long-term strategic tie-ups with our corporate partners. The gift cards can be purchased by various modes such as cash, debit or credit card at our partner brand’s retail outlets. One can also purchase gift cards from Woohoo.in, our exclusive platform for gift card retail in India through cash, COD, credit cards, debit, international credit cards etc.
Are these ‘one time’ use cards or can be recharged again and used or even gifted again?
Depending on the requirements, brands can launch multiple card programmes that can be one-time usage cards or multiple usage cards. Most brands have launched their card programmes that provide the convenience to the consumers to reload the cards for repeated usage and gifting.
Instead of plastic gift cards, the use of digital gift cards that can be stored, tracked and redeemed through consumers’ smartphones is catching on the trend, westwide. Are you also planning to launch something in the same line? Don’t you fear that e-tailing could make a physical card dated at some time?
QwikCilver and Woohoo provide the convenience to brands and consumers to launch and manage all kinds of programmes – including plastic cards & digital gift cards. We already have digital gift card programmes for our partner brands that can be gifted and delivered easily through mobile phones and emails. These e-gift cards are also another option that is available for consumers who wish to get away from the physical form of the card.
Also, although digital cards are still slowly gaining popularity, it would be incorrect to say that physical cards would be outdated in the near future as they form an essential part of certain kinds of gifting where tangible gifts are the norm. For example, weddings would probably still see the use of the physical gift card as it may not be very acceptable to turn up a at a wedding ‘empty-handed’, as a digital card would hold a lesser value at such occasions. The Indian market would witness about 15 per cent of the gift card market move to the digital version in 3 years from the launch phase.
Are your services only confined to India or you are also planning to go global?
As of now, we are focused on Indian retail sector and establishing the market with the leading brands and retailers of India. Over the next 24 months, QwikCilver shall establish its presence across other key global markets that have shown interest – such as regions like South-east Asia and EMEA.
Giftcard.com gives customers a chance to create a gift card on their own. Do you also provide same sort of service to your customers?
Card customisation services are being offered and deployed across more than 150 corporate customers through Woohoo.in.
Did you deliberately choose to have different outlooks for Qwikcilver and Woohoo in terms of the services offered?
QwikCilver is the name of our company that provides the technology for the gift cards. However, we felt that the name would not be appropriate for a consumer brand as such. We chose Woohoo as it would be easy for the consumer to relate to it as the name signifies its purpose and is also easier to remember.
What are your future projects?
Our recent initiative is Woohoo Friends Club launched after 7 months of efforts by our team. This club will enable the Facebook friend-to-friend engagements that can extend the gifting process on Facebook itself. Without the need for any address of the recipient, this has received a very positive response from across India.This is India’s first social –to-local marketing platform that has been integrated with Facebook.