Gift card co Qwikcilver plans expansion to Russia and SE Asia

As appeared in The Economic Times on 27 January 2017 by Payal GangulyET

Gift card solutions provider Qwikcilver is planning to expand to Russia and Southeast Asia, hoping to leverage its investor network to tap into the new markets. The company had in July last year raised Rs 67 crore from investors led by Sistema Asia Fund, the proprietary fund of Russian conglomerate Sistema.

“We are backed by the board now to venture outside of India and have inbound interest from retail players for the Russian market. We are also looking to set up a subsidiary in Singapore for our expansion in Southeast Asia,” said Qwikcilver cofounder TP Pratap.

Gift card co Qwikcilver plans expansion to Russia and SE Asia
The Singapore subsidiary, to be helmed by Sadiq Ahamed, vice-president at Qwikcilver, will be managed by the Indian team.

The company already has a presence in West Asia and has tie-ups with online electronics retailer Sharaf DG, franchisee businesses of Al Futtaim group, Lulu chain of malls and others across Gulf Cooperation Council countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. It is headed by Shankar Balan, president for processing business.

“Our Europe market strategy will be different as we will be working with IT service partners and offering our software-as-a-service product to retailers as a bundled offering. This includes closed and semi-closed loop wallets and payment platform,” said Pratap.

The company has also tied up with a US-based point-of-sale provider, which, it said, has a large client base in retail stores across West Asia.

Qwikcilver, which is targetting a gross merchandise value of Rs 4,000 crore for its gift card processing business for 2016-17, pegs contribution from its overseas sales to be 25% of its total business over the next three years. The processing business unit currently contributes 75% of revenue and is used by retail enterprises such as Shoppers Stop.

The company, which raised Rs 63 crore in a previous funding round led by Amazon India, powers the Amazon Pay Balance tool on Amazon India’s website and processes the transactions at the back-end as the ecommerce player does not ha ve a prepaid payment or PPI instrument licence from the Reserve Bank of India to run its own wallet.

The company has started retailing its gift cards with on-demand grocery delivery company Grofers and claims the lead in prepaid card market.


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Changing the Way the World Gifts

It is that time of the year. Again. To make resolutions. And to ensure that the resolutions taken earlier are close to execution.

We collectively look forward to a New Year with renewed hope and excitement.

There would surely be freshly baked jokes on social media that nothing is going to change – as it is the same Job, the same Boss, the same colleague, the same market, the same challenges, the same complexities..…

But it is still a New Year!

Time does not have a holiday break. Our dreams don’t have an expiry date. Our dreams continue to be cherished and nurtured. Circumstances shall conspire to help in their accomplishment.

Life, as it happens, has no pause button.

This year has had its share of crests and troughs. Having said that, we shall save only the memories that brought a twinkle to our eyes and mind; not those that added wrinkles to our faces!

At times, we get asked as to what we do. We do lots of exciting and pioneering work. All towards one common agenda.

In a nutshell, we do EVERYTHING GIFT CARDS.

We enable large enterprises, transnational brands & startups to launch and manage unique & innovative consumer outreach programs. Via our robust, multi-tenanted Technology Product Suite for Stored Value Prepaid & Gift Cards.

In 2016, we drove Gift Card category innovations across 700+ enterprises in 500+cities in 6 different countries. This translates to 2+ Gift Cards being transacted every second through the Year on our Qwikcilver SaaS Platform.

As we see it, this in only the beginning.

We now take fresh guard at the wicket; padded up to head onto new frontiers. With new initiatives lined up.  

During our long voyage in the market, we have had the joy to have interactions and advice from many of our customers and doyens of Industry. One specific anecdotal tale did resonate soundly and also helped in reminding us and steering our own course : After failing to scale Mount Everest twice, Edmund Hillary amazingly stated : I will come again and conquer you because as a mountain, you cannot grow, but as a human, I can!

And what Edmund Hillary did go on to achieve with this positive attitude is now part of human fortitude and folklore.

In 2016, the Gift Card Industry scaled up across India significantly with strong growth reported across consumption segments. This recent article in the Economic Times did reflect it : Gift Card Industry Growth.

This rapid adoption of Gift Cards has been achieved by the sincere efforts of the brand owners in scaling their Gift Card programs during the key seasons among their customers in innovative modes of merchandising at points of sale.

Increased consumer adoption of Gift Cards is being witnessed – as the smartest way to Gift to friends and family for various festival gifting occasions

In 2016, we scaled up Woohoo – as it got adopted as the Most Powerful Gifting Platform for Corporates, Enterprises, marketplaces and consumers.

Woohoo launched India’s First Secondary Gift Card marketplace – that was also reportedly the World’s First Fully Integrated Secondary Gift Card Marketplace. This helped to drive a new base of consumers onto the growing category of Gift Card users in India.  

The times ahead will certainly not be the same again. For us as a company and also for each of us as individuals in our official and personal lives.

In the distant past of my old childhood, the New Year meant a quiet evening with my close family. When we used to make all that we needed. The food was cooked at home. My Late Mother used to cook our Malayali staple food of Appam, Stew, Fish curry, Ulli Sambar, Theeyal, Unniappam, Payasam among other things. She would even bake a special cake for us on New Years Eve.

And we children would relish it, even if my younger sibling would crib about the boringness of it. In those days in the 80s, we did not have the options to place New Year orders via Homedelivery from the neighbourhood restaurants. I still relish those yummy delights cooked at my home.

And today, as a parent myself, I have no say in the choice of clothes by my two little children. In fact, my children even go on to choose the brand and model of automobile that I am allowed to purchase and drive!

For the New Year, I will even get a piece of chocolate from my 6 year old daughter. If I behave well today. As going to be judged & decided by her.

Best Wishes for a Warm and digitally Gifted Prosperous New Year 2017!

(One resolution of mine was that I would Post atleast once on LinkedIn. So hope this qualifies as one and I tick off my list for the Year !)

Author: Pratap TP (CMO, Qwikcilver Solutions Pvt Ltd)