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Taking a cue from China’s WeChat, Paytm now launches Paytm Postcard

Tarush Bhalla
7th Aug 2017
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Digital payments company Paytm on Monday launched its gifting envelope feature called Paytm Postcards to coincide with Raksha Bandhan.

This feature update from Paytm comes amid rumours last week that the mobile wallet would be launching its chat service later this month.

A release announcing the launch of the new feature said Paytm Postcard plans to take the concept of Shagun (a decorated envelope containing gift money for special occasions like weddings, anniversaries and festivals) completely digital.

This feature will also be useful for corporates across India which offer gift money to employees as a token of appreciation during special events and festivals.

These postcards can be customised with messages for specific occasions and sent instantly to Paytm users across India. The feature is available as an icon on the Paytm app.

Speaking about the launch, Deepak Abbot, Senior Vice President, Paytm said,

Individuals from all walks of life, including army personnel, traders and daily wage workers living away from home prefer sending money to their loved ones using our platform. With Paytm Postcards, users will now be able to add an emotional touch to their gifts and spread the joy during special occasions and festivities.

With the gifting industry in the country pegged at $40-42 billion by its own estimate, and several players reporting 20-40 percent annual growth, Paytm wants to establish itself in personal gifting by offering Paytm Postcards as a simple and thoughtful way of offering gift money.

Lessons from China? 

The Paytm Postcard and even Paytm's rumoured chat service have similarities with China’s WeChat, and it would seem that Paytm is trying to take cues from its investors in China.

Users of both Paytm and AliPay know that both the apps are quite similar in terms of their UI and even in terms of certain services offered on their platforms.

Chinese digital payments leader AliPay, which until two years ago had a market monopoly of 90 percent in terms of usage and volumes, has now been pushed back to 50 percent by main competitor WeChat Pay, Tencent’s very own payment service.

Being a social messaging leader was one of the reasons why WeChat overthrew leader AliPay in its own home ground.

A WeChat user from China told YourStory: “We have WeChat open all the time for messaging and hence wouldn’t like to switch over to another app (AliPay here) to make payments of any kind.”

This convenience may explain the reason why Paytm could be considering its own messaging service.

Paytm Postcard has a striking similarity with WeChat’s Red Envelope service. Just like Paytm Postcard, WeChat’s red envelope is based on the Chinese tradition of 'hongbao' (red envelope), where money is given to family and friends as a gift.

These red envelopes can be loaded with money and even sent to groups. The person who opens it first gets the highest fraction of the amount allotted to the envelope.

While the idea looks absurd, almost silly, on trying it you understand the competitive and gambling thrill of these red envelopes, which WeChat popularly refers to as ‘Red Packets’.

This marriage of payments and gamification has also worked in WeChat’s favour. For instance, an article from Fast Company claims that during the launch in 2014, the usage of WeChat payments tripled from 30 million to almost 100 million in a month.

This Chinese New Year, WeChat users sent 409,000 red packets in a single second, according to the article. You can read more about the Chinese tech and payments economy here.

While having a strong mindshare in the payments market, will Paytm be able to replicate the success of WeChat Pay or will it chose a different route to its success? It is still a wait-and-watch game.

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