The Story….

The team, led by Dhun Karai and supported by Troy Veron, use their extensive, award winning experience in building and managing large gift & prepaid cards portfolios across Australia & New Zealand Markets.

All merchants and issuers have similar challenges – legacy hard-coded platforms are often the most limiting factor to meet the fast changing socio-demographics, and the adoption of digital channels and digital wallets driving disruption of the supply chains. The need for secure, scalable and resilient agile platforms are critical to achieve growth and meet market demand.

With no single industry voice to represent the market or that enables networking, everyone seems to be working solo. The need for establishing an Australian Gift & Prepaid Card Association is clear, and Grant Thornton Australia is working to make this a reality.

Gift cards were first introduced by Australian retailers in around 2004 to replace the traditional paper gift certificates and vouchers – following on from the successful experiences seen in international markets by global retailers. Paper vouchers had been around for many decades – but off-the-shelf plastic cards allowed easier consumer access to them in stores, and they soon became a popular feature of many rewards and recognition programs.

​Jump ahead to 2020, and the Australian gift & prepaid Cards market continues to experience robust double-digit growth year-on-year, even as some areas of the retail market struggle with the impacts of Covid-19. Today the gift & prepaid market is estimated to generate between $4b and $6b in sales annually in Australia. Growth in the B2B and Corporate gifting segments are strongest with digital sales exceeding in-store physical sales for most large retailers.

For retailers and well-known brands, gift cards are now an indispensable category to:
· Acquire new customers, or re-engaged those who have lapsed; 
· Increase share of customer basket through stimulus campaigns;
· Help customers with budgeting, especially through current economic times; and
· Obtain and leverage data insights to help business in making informed, targeted decision

Merchants continue to evolve their gift card offerings through data insights, loyalty and card-linked rewards programs and prepaid cards are being used more widely for self-use, budgeting and business expenses. New ‘digital first’ processing platforms are changing the playing field for program managers, and regulators are looking on from the sidelines with varying degrees of impact and influence.

With limited innovation in our domestic processing platforms, internationally technology driven fintechs are today working with local merchants and issuers to expand the products and services offering and maintain category growth. The market is evolving from totally closed-loop retailer focused programs to multi-retailer coalition programs and open-loop programs through the domestic and global card networks. ​

The Australian Gift and Prepaid Card Association will be the trade body and membership organisation open to industry participants to represent with one voice the interests of the gift & prepaid card market. It will also look to work with legislators and regulators plus providing networking, industry best practices, market research and educational opportunities.

​If you are interested in learning more, or keen to get involved, please feel free to reach out. Our role is to help establish the building blocks for the association and provide ongoing professional support. The objectives and activities of the association will be driven by its members for the benefit of all. We have seen the member and consumer benefit such an Association has brought in international markets with a better understanding by regulators & legislators, more uniform standards, greater variety of products, deeper penetration of gift & prepaid cards holdings and the increased network effect from the rapid move to digitisation across the industry. ​

Troy Veron Grant Thornton Australia