Long reads

How Aussie gift cards are making women glow and men plunder since 2021

Sehrish Alikhan

Sehrish Alikhan

Reporter, Finextra

The UK and Australia formed a committed and fruitful partnership with the formation of the Australia-UK Fintech Bridge in 2018, solidified by the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in 2021. Following Finextra’s discussion with Austrade and Fintech Australia on new opportunities borne from the agreement, we interviewed Clare Kinsey and David Anderson, co-founders of flourishing Australian fintech, Karta, which is currently embarking on an expansion into the UK and US.

Established in 2021, Karta formed strategic partnerships with MasterCard and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Since its inception, the fintech’s growth has skyrocketed, having issued over 100,000 gift cards to date.

Kinsey, as a previous resident of the UK, commented that the UK-Australia FTA will significantly help Australians live and work unrestricted in the UK and vice versa. “This will empower companies like ours to allow people with ambitions to live and work overseas in a big economy like the UK. We will be able to facilitate that more effectively. This is something I would have loved as an option when I was younger, and I know many of our friends at that time would have benefited from it. So it's exciting to have that now come into effect.”

Anderson adds that there is a wealth of opportunity for fintech to blossom in Australia, as there are multiple bodies that are striving to bolster the growth on online payments and embedded finance in the region such as Fintech Australia and Austrade.

The process of UK expansion while operating between time zones is currently underway, and Karta has a long road ahead for the next 12-24 months in fully launching in Europe.

Anderson stated: “There are a lot of cultural similarities that Australia shares with the UK, compared to the US, which is a very different market. Australia is very developed from a product perspective with gift cards. One of the products we have on our consumer offering special.com, soon to be special.co.uk, is a Pub Card, which you can spend at any pub, and a Latte Lovers card, which you can spend at any cafe. That product doesn't exist in the UK market right now. We also have some patented technology that brings a hell of a lot of consumer experience above where it is right now. We're pretty excited about it.”

Kinsey and Anderson announced that they are busy planning the go-live for a new product to be launched late October. The product will allow physical gift cards to be converted into a tokenised wallet in a nationwide discount store, which similar to Primark in the UK. They expressed that being able to have all gift cards in one place where the amounts can be tracked will be popular with younger users. Additionally, Kinsey furthers that from a retail perspective the feature will address fraud concerns at the point of sale.

She explains: “The gift card industry is quite archaic at times, and there's a high level of incidents where scammers can be can take users’ personal information and then through digital means they can actually take that stored credit away, so you can end up having that risk as a customer going into store thinking that you are buying a gift card that is valid. This product addresses that fraud concern and retailers are very excited to try it.”

Anderson concluded with his aspirations for Karta: “Outside of global domination, we want to give users the best gift card they can experience under the sun. It's a trillion-dollar industry that everyone's forgotten about, which is brilliant because everyone is just trying to work out how to maximise breakage and maintain the status quo. In contrast, we're running in the other direction. In the long term, if we become the MasterCard of gift cards, that's how we know we've won – being completely ubiquitous from a redemption perspective. People don't buy it if they don't see the brand mark on it. That's the goal."

Witnessing the increase in the usage of QR codes, online payments, and digital transactions in Australia, especially among the younger tech-savvy population, Karta aims to target the same audience in the UK.

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