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BENGALURU : Digital payments major Google Pay has ventured into the digital gift cards category by partnering with Pine Labs-owned Qwikcilver, as it looks to issue real-time virtual gift cards to users from more than 150 online and offline brands, across 1500 cities in India.

With this partnership, Qwikcilver’s consumer arm Woohoo will list on Google Pay’s in-app store Spot, as the two entities look to create exclusive offers and campaigns for users, while helping impacted brick and mortar retailers to bring back demand.

While newer products are still under discussion, Google Pay and Woohoo might even look at boosting offline demand by introducing gifting solutions for the kirana economy and local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a space largely untouched by gift cards, a top executive at Qwikcilver said.

Qwikcilver, which counts 700 companies and 1 million consumers as clients, is currently powering a billion transactions through its gift cards on an annualised basis.

“We have seen the gifting ecosystem steadily grow, and are already witnessing a 90% jump in issuance of new gift cards this fiscal, over the same period last year. For Google Pay customers this partnership helps customers buy digital gift cards on the platform in real-time across segments of apparel, hospitality, travel and the entire diaspora of offline retail . For merchants this partnership will allow them to increase their sales incrementally," said Kumar Sudarsan, CEO and founder, Qwikcilver.

A Google Pay spokesperson didn't respond to queries.

According to Sudarsan, customers usually buy for higher ticket sizes than the gift voucher amount when purchasing goods through the instrument, pushing sales for merchants. The average gifting amount for these vouchers can go up to 10,000 in case of segments such as luxury, hospitality, and jewellery, but the median value continues to be around 1900.

With the ongoing pandemic, affecting physical interactions, Sudarsan adds that the trend around gifting has largely moved towards digital, with close to 75% of gift card transactions taking place with online merchants, and the rest being fueled by offline stores.

Riding on this trend, newer segments have been added to the online gifting space including OTT, agritech, healthcare and online diagnostics as well as gaming and app-purchases.

Woohoo has seen a 150% jump in daily transactions this year through gift cards, compared to last year, Sudarsan adds.

As gifting moves digital, the pandemic has also spurred interest amongst Tier 2 and 3 customers, helping in awareness amongst this demographic, as local SMEs, retailers and distributors run programmes and campaigns in these geographies.

Local SMEs by launching their own branded gift card programmes have seen a 5x increase in gift card purchases, compared to pre-covid on Qwikcilver, the company said.

Qwikcilver currently works with over 250 merchants in India including Amazon, Flipkart, Grofers, Snapdeal, Bigbasket, Cleartrip and MakeMyTrip, amongst others. For offline, the company’s merchant base includes - BigBazaar, Shoppers Stop, PVR, Titan.

Google Pay continues to be one of the market leaders in terms of monthly Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions, holding close to 42% average market share, and closely competes with Bengaluru-based digital payments major, PhonePe.

In October, UPI transactions in the country touched an all time high, crossing 2 billion in volume. Subsequently, in November, the payment infrastructure continued to grow touching close to 2.2 billion in transaction count.

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