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2016
As appeared in The Economic Times  by Shadma Shaikh.

Inbound investor interest, big pocket deals and increasing revenue have attracted a lot of traction and growth in the number of players operating in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry. While the success of larger players, including the likes of Salesforce and Microsoft led to startups such as Freshdesk, foraying into the horizontal SaaS landscape, industry growth is also being witnessed in the vertical SaaS domain. As opposed to horizontal SaaS that provides software technology that could be used across different industry domains, vertical SaaS caters to a specific vertical, like hospitality or retail. According to data from Tracxn, over 60 startups operating in the vertical SaaS domain received funding in 2016, comprising 50% of the overall SaaS funding during the year. “Vertical players in SaaS are opening up markets that were underserved earlier. As the SaaS industry evolves, we see scope for new market makers than just fast followers. While the potential for a market maker to scale in a horizontal space is more, vertical players are also attractive considering the scale of market they operate in. A clear example of this is Zenoti (a startup that provides software solutions to wellness centres),” says Sharad Sharma, cofounder of iSPIRT. SaaS applications that have traditionally addressed broad business functions such as customer relationship management (CRM)or enterprise resource planning (ERP) could be served by an industry agnostic large horizontal player.
Vertical Saas Players
However, for specific and critical business needs, of say a large retail player, a vertical player that specialises in retail solutions stands out as an obvious choice. This has led to the success of players like Capillary Technologies and Rategain that specialise in retail and travel sectors, respectively. Also, a SaaS tool that can be hosted on cloud and accessed across locations, gives more flexibility and uniformity to traditionally offline vertical players. For Qwikcilver, a startup that specialises in gift card solutions for retailers, having a centrally hosted gift-card solution helped manage inventory and records for retail players and gave more flexibility to consumers, thus increasing the convenience of gift-cards. “The gift-card ecosystem is huge given the complexities of the Indian market. Being a vertical SaaS player, we understand the market well and by providing a SaaS platform that manages a centrally hosted transaction via our platform also enables easy scaling up of a programme,” says Pratap TP, director of Qwikcilver. Serial entrepreneur Sudheer Koneru’s Zenoti, a vertical SaaS startup that addresses the needs of wellness industry also raised $15 million in August in a round led by Norwest Venture Partners. Horizontal customisation While vertical players in SaaS are finding solutions for precise industry requirements, large business serving horizontal players are providing customisation of products to suit varied business needs of enterprise customers. Delhi-based Wingify that provides web-optimisation tools for online business, uses mass-customisation of products. “While most of our products do not entertain personalised customisation, we rely on configurable environments to make specific feature enhancements or changes,” says Sparsh Gupta, CTO, Wingify. 
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2016
As appeared in Times of India. 

Digital gift cards, digital meal passes, digital medical and travel vouchers have replaced traditional options with both individuals and corporates taking to these new-age choices with gusto this Deepavali. According to observers, the city stands fourth in the country when it comes to digital gifting, after Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, and the sector is moving ahead at a fast pace.Speaking about the most availed gifting options, experts for Hyderabadis clothing is top priority, followed by personal accessories and electronics. In other major cities, clothing is third or fourth on the list. “While the average cost of a gift is around Rs 2,000 at the individual level, for companies the average hovers around Rs 5,000,” said Ramki Gaddipati, co-founder, Zeta, a business-to-business-only company that has sold nearly 15,000 gift cards this season. “All major players in the market are doing very well, like Sodexo, Udio, Zeta and us. All these vouchers have their own USPs, it is more of a matter of personal choice, which an employee or an employer prefers,” said Ankush Gupta co-founder of Cinqo, a digital payments solution company.

In the twin cities there are more than 500 exclusive brand outlets with at least 150 of them making gift cards available. “The figure is higher when compared to Delhi or Mumbai and is at par with Bangalore,” said Pratap T P, co-founder and CMO, Qwikcilver, an end-to-end gift card and stored-value-card solutions company. While there are gifting options available in categories like sportswear, hospitality, home furnishing, apparel, health and beauty, travel, electronics and baby products, there are also cards which are not brand exclusive and can be used without restrictions. “Currently there are more than 100 companies in Hyderabad which have been availing these facilities from across players.The figure is expected to grow,” said Smeet Modi, co-founder of Cinqo.

Pratap T P said one of the key reasons for digital gifting catching on at such a quick pace in the city is the influx of NRI professionals who have been exposed to the concept of gift cards. “They bring back the concept and hence Hyderabad is adapting at a faster pace than other cities,” he said. Individuals who are opting for the digital vouchers meanwhile say its a comfortable solution. “I wanted to gift something to a fellow colleague as a token of thanks but wasn’t sure what he would prefer. An apparel brand gift card seemed like a perfect option. Its easy to gift and accept,” said P Vaibhav, a pharma company executive.
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2016
As appeared in Business Standard by Priya Nair.  

You received a gift card worth Rs 5,000 for Diwali last year, but could spend only Rs 4,500 because the brand was not to your liking. The card is no longer valid. While you did not lose money, inability to use the gift amount can rankle. Now, you can trade or sell gift cards that you have no use for, provided they are still valid. “On an average, there is a breakage (the unused amount) of three-four per cent on prepaid cards like gift cards because these cannot be reloaded. This happens because sometimes the article you want to buy may fall short of the card limit. In some cases, the retailer may be unwilling to swipe the card below a certain amount. In such a case, too, you cannot use the card,” says Ramki Gaddipati, Co-founder of Zeta, a company that offers online employee benefit solutions. Due to this problem with closed-end gift cards, a number of merchants are now doing co-branded prepaid/gift cards with other merchants, so the closed loop card can be used at more outlets, says Deepak Chandnani, chief executive officer of Worldline South Asia and Middle East, a payments processing firm.

Sell partly used or unused cards Earlier, if you received a gift card you didn’t want to use, you would pass it on as a gift or sell it to someone else at a discount. While this was informal, there is now an online platform to do it. Qwickcilver, a gift card technology and end-to-end prepaid solutions company has launched Woohoo a gift card secondary market exchange, the only one so far. This allows consumers to convert their unused or partially-used gift cards to cash by listing these at a price of their choice on the Woohoo gifting app. How it works: You list your card and mention the price you want. Once verified, you need to give your bank account number and IFSC code. The money is transferred into your account once the card is sold. Usually, it takes two-three working days. There is no rule on the discount you must list the card. Usually sellers list their cards at 5-10 per cent of the discount. There is no fee for listing, but once the card is sold Qwickcilver gets 10 per cent of the amount as fee. “One reason customers may want to sell their card is if that particular brand is not to their liking. For instance, I have a gift card for Rs 5,000 from a jewellery brand and I don’t want to buy jewellery. I can sell my card before the validity expires and make some money. Or I get a travel card worth Rs 10,000 as wedding gift and I use Rs 6,000 for buying tickets. If I have no use for the remaining Rs 4,000, I can sell it . The person buying it can use it and get a discount on hotel or ticket bookings,” explains Pratap T P, co-founder, Qwikcilver.

While the seller can list physical cards, the buyer gets only the digital format of the card. So, there is no need to physically send the card. The security is the code on the card, sent to the mobile number and email ID of the buyer. Only gift cards for brands that are managed by Qwickcilver can be listed but this is about 90 per cent of the gift cards issued, Pratap adds. Choose your card Zeta offers a digital product that allows receivers to select a gift card, of their choice. The receiver gets an email and a PIN, which show the value of the card and the several brands available. So, if the value is Rs 5,000, you can use Rs 3,000 on Amazon and the rest on another website or even at an offline store. To use digital cards at stores you have to first generate a voucher and share that code at the store’s point-of-sales. “The giver can also select a list of stores that you want to offer the card for, say, only book stores or only apparel stores,” says Gaddipati of Zeta. Open-ended vs closed-end For ItzCash, a leader in prepaid cards, 20-25 per cent of the entire year’s volumes comes in the 45 days during Diwali, says Bhavik Vasa its chief growth officer. “This year digital cards are the flavour. While we offer gift cards of individual retail houses, we find the open-ended gift cards powered by Visa are more popular,” he says. ItzCash’s digital cards can be used only online but there is no restriction on the kind of transaction they can be used for. They can be used for booking tickets or making purchases. The Visa-powered gift card can be used in any store and both offline and online. However, they cannot be used at an ATM or be reloaded, as the purpose is gifting. The maximum amount that can be loaded is 50,000, which is the limit permitted for pre-paid instruments by the Reserve Bank of India. “While we do offer gift cards for specific brands, we are seeing the shift towards the open-ended cards,” says Vasa.

Merchants also issue their own gift cards, which are closed-loop and can be used only at their own stores. But they run loyalty programmes through these and it is easier to do a chargeback by putting the refunded amount into the prepaid card, says Chandnani. “Since these are not PIN-based prepaid instruments, ensure that the card does not fall into the wrong hands,” he adds. A lot of the closed-end cards are similar to gift vouchers and hence cannot be used after the expiry date. Some of these also specify the products can be that bought or not on the particular voucher, says Vinay Bhatia, head – analytics & loyalty, Future Group. “Most retailers in India do not give the option of redeeming the card/voucher in parts,” he adds. GIFT CARDS ARE POPULAR BECAUSE…
  • They are easy and convenient
  • They can be loaded in denominations ranging from as low as Rs 100 to as much as Rs 50,000
  • Receiver is free to buy anything of his choice
  • Open-ended cards are universally accepted
  • They can be used for online transactions too
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2016
As appeared in The Economic Times . 

The gift card segment in India is likely to get a huge boost this festive season with projected growth of 400% over the last year, according to the Qwikcilver Gift Card Survey. The survey was carried out across 400 towns across 10,000 points of sale and also factored in the buying behaviour of 4,00,000 shoppers on Woohoo, the company’s ecommerce platform. Qwikcilver cofounder Pratap said gift cards were becoming the preferred gifting option, with the company averaging almost 3-4million cards a month.
Giftcard Infographics
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2016
As appeared in Source: Times of India by Shalina Pillai. 

Qwikcilver solutions, gift card technology and prepaid solutions company, has launched a consumer to consumer gift card trading exchange marketplace for consumers. This allows users to convert their unused or partially used gift cards to cash. Buyers, on the other hand, will be able to purchase gift cards at special prices. We had been developing this for the past eight months and are launching this in time for the festive season. We got a number of feedback from our customers. We are bullish that it has the potential to drastically increase the number of gift card users in India. With the Indian Gift Card Industry growing at 300% annually, this would help to further scale the category across a new segment of Gift Card users,” said Pratap TP, co-founder and CMO, Qwikcilver.

The company, which recently raised funds from Sistema Asia Fund, the proprietary fund of Russian conglomerate Sistema, has partnered with over brands enabling access to 5000+ stores and portals’ including retail chains, entertainment platforms, travel partners and leading currency providers.
Qwikcilver’s consumer-focussed gifting app, Woohoo, would digitize the listed cards, Pratap added. “Once the seller lists their physical gift card on the platform, the card gets disabled and a new electronic version of the same is created and gets listed on the Woohoo Marketplace,” he said. It will also allow the users to convert loyalty points from banks and NBFCs to digital gift cards and cash. It had recently appointed former Reserve Bank executive director, G Padmanabhan as a strategic advisor.
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2016
As appeared in The Hindu .

Giftcard Marketplace

Are you one of those saddled with too many gift cards and looking at ways to get rid of them. Don’t let them go to waste: there is now a place where you can trade them for cash. Qwikcilver Solutions, a leading gift card technology provider, has come up with a platform that enables consumers to turn their partially used or unused gift cards into cash by listing them on the Woohoo gifting app. They will also be able to convert loyalty points, generated from loyalty programs of multiple banks and NBFC channels, to digital gift cards, which can subsequently be sold on the newly launched Woohoo Secondary Marketplace. Once the card is sold, the money is credited directly to the seller’s bank account. In order to obviate possibilities of misuse, all the listed gift cards are verified and authenticated in real time in the backend, said Pratap TP, Co-Founder & CMO, Qwikcilver.

Customers, who have physical gift cards, need not have to ship them to the buyer. Once customers list their physical cards on the platform, they get disabled and a new electronic version of the same (with the value and validity intact) gets created and listed, which can then be purchased by someone who is looking for a gift card.
The platform also allows sellers to change the price of the card, or even pull it off before it’s sold. Stating that it’s India’s first fully integrated consumer-to-consumer marketplace for selling and buying gift cards, Mr Pratap said the launch of the platform ahead of the festival season is expected to give a further impetus to the Indian gift card industry that is growing at 300% annually. There are over 150 brands and more than 5,000 stores and portals on board Woohoo, which is available on Android and also on the web. It allows customers to redeem the gift cards either at online or offline stores. Woohoo comes from Qwikcilver, the company whose technology works in the background powering the gift card schemes of a large number of online and physical outlets. 
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The co-founders of Qwikcilver Solutions Pvt Ltd, Kumar Sudarshan and Pratap TP, featured on Zee Business’ Kool Startups, The Big Idea.

The video highlights Kumar and Pratap’s entrepreneurial journey – the idea behind starting Qwikcilver to the inception and growth of Woohoo.in (Qwikcilver’s e-commerce platform that houses and offers gift cards from the country’s leading brands) and the Woohoo gifting app. Besides sharing the details of their journey and acknowledging the role of the tremendous support they received from their family and friends in helping them build Qwikcilver to what it is today, Kumar and Pratap also share details of the complex yet sophisticated and seamless technology that they use to power and support the extensive and varied gift card programmes of partner companies (big players spanning across both the offline and online world). The duo also provide some insights into the the adoption of the gift cards in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, the revenue models for B2B and B2C businesses and the plans of expansion in the coming years.

Source: Zee Business
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2016
As appeared in retail.franchiseindia.com .

True Wanderer event allows people to champion their sense of freedom whilst discovering their spirit of adventure and exploration. Riders and voters to avail of Woohoo gift cards with access to 150 brands across 20 categories. Woohoo, powered by Qwikcilver solutions, homegrown gift card company has been announced as the official gifting partner for Wrangler’s True Wanderer 5.0, an annual event for riders across the country organized by the American outdoor denim brand. True Wanderer event allows people to champion their sense of freedom whilst discovering their spirit of adventure and exploration.  The top 10 riders will embark on a journey of a lifetime and share their experiences through photos, videos and blogs to capture the day’s events and upload their experiences on the official Wrangler website. Judging will be based on the content generated by each rider and votes received. The 10 finalists have started their journey and the winner will be announced next week. The winner of True Wanderer 5.0 will be entitled to win a Triumph Bike and Woohoo gift cards. Woohoo Gift Cards
“We are very excited about the strong partnership with Wrangler. This partnership offers a different, integrated solution for communicating the freedom of adventure of Woohoo. The association also adds value by helping the brand move into territories that communicates to a younger audience,” said Pratap TP, Co-Founder and CMO, Qwikcilver. “We believe that it’s an association between two like-minded brands to offer best value for the consumer. Wrangler believes in bringing to life the spirit of freedom and adventure through its stylish apparel. By partnering with the unique gifting solutions offered by Woohoo, we will be able to offer freedom of choice to many more people across India,” added Krishna Dorai, GM, Wrangler.
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Woohoo, the go-to platform for gifting by Qwikcilver solutions, recently engaged with consumers to ask them: ‘What would really make them happy?’ in the context of gifting. This was done through a recently launched video: https://youtu.be/-C5Oszqz2fA The campaign talks about how ‘We think we know everything about our loved ones. But do we really?’ A selection of different people that included siblings, mother-daughter and married couples were put through a small test. As part of the test, they were asked a simple question on what they would gift their loved ones to make them truly happy. An interesting observation that was noted at the end of the video was that the majority of people did not know what their loved ones actually wanted as a gift. Woohoo presented the solution to this problem in the form of a small gift box in front of the participants, which comprised a mobile phone with the Woohoo app downloaded and a Woohoo gift card. This is the simplest and the most powerful way to gift someone we love, the freedom of choice from a world of brands, services and experiences. Sourceexchange4media.com
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2016
As appeared in Times Of India by Madhav Chanchani. 

Riding on the back of the fast growing Indian etailing market, gifting card solutions provider Qwikcilver sees the value of active cards on its platform reach . 2,000 crore by the end of March.` The company, which counts Amazon among its investors, expects to increase this value further five fold in the next three years. Giftcards Infographics Qwikcilver has over 150 brands on board, of which 30% are online players. Two years ago, online pla yers accounted for 10% of the brands on its platform. With proliferation of online brands, Qwikcilver also sees the share of digital gift cards increasing to 60% in three years from 20% now. “We have 1.2-crore active gift cards in circulation, which we expect to increase to 2 crore by March,“ said Pratap TP, chief mar keting officer at Qwikcilver.

Pratap co-founded the company along with Kumar Sudarshan in 2008. Pratap said the weighted average value of cards is `. 2,500. Qwikcilver, which is backed by venture capital firms Accel Partners and Helion Venture Partners, charges merchants 1% to 3.5% of the activation value of cards. While Flipkart was one its first ecommerce clients, the firm also has Cleartrip, Snapdeal, MakeMyTrip, Amazon, Hoopos.com and Yepme among its clients. The firm sells gift cards of Amazon and other brands online. The gift-cards category has become one of the fastest growing segments for etailers. According to Amazon, the cards retail and corporate businesses has seen a 500% year-on-year growth in India. For Qwikcilver, growth was not easy in the initial years. “We believe this growth should have happened three years ago,“ said Pratap. The company raised $10 million in a round led by Amazon in December 2014.
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