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[June 08, 2014]
BitGifting for Ramadan [Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)]
(Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Interview with Fahad Moti Khan, Co-founder and CEO, BitGifting, collaborative gifting solution, and Bitgiving, India's number one crowd funding platform for social causes and exclusive partner of Amnesty International, India.
He is a career entrepreneur with expertise in brand building, marketing, online business models, internet technologies and social media.
Where did the idea of BitGifting come from? BitGifting was a discussion with a group of friends about the bad gifts that we have received in life. We realised that big challenges in the process of gifting emerge for constraints like lack of understanding of people's taste, own budget, location and choice of gift.
We realised that a universally acceptable pre-paid card with a social-media integrated collaborative event solution could be the ideal way to address this gap. In a single stroke, it solved everything. The issue of choice and taste was left to the recipient of the gift, location became insignificant and budget was handled by allowing multiple people to come together and create a gift.
We spoke to our friends in the payment industry and realised that it was technically possible to do it. After about a year of design, development and integrations, BitGifting.com was launched in India.
What have been some of the major challenges? The challenges for this solution were two-fold; First, the technology and then, the acceptance of the concept by the end users.
BitGifting is a very complex technology solution with multiple stakeholders, integrations and security. The solution integrates with Facebook at multiple levels, it integrates with the secure card-processing systems in real-time and lastly the payment options. All these integrations have to work seamlessly to offer the end-user the desired user-experience.
The next bit of challenge lies in the fact that BitGifting is a business model with no global precedence. Group-gifting as a concept has existed forever and so has pre-paid gift card but a marriage of the two with social media at the core has not been done before. This, in turn, left us with the challenge of educating the end users of the concept and it's benefits.
On an ongoing basis, since card issuance is governed by a lot of regulations, we have to create and submit regular activity reports to the central bank at high-frequency.
Is this like crowd-funding, but from a gift giving point of view? It's an incredible way to look at it and technically it is crowdfunding. The only difference is that the events are not publicly visible and only a closed group of invited friends can participate in the gifting process.
Have some people used Bitgifting as Zakat? In India, our launch market, card acceptance is still restricted to merchants catering to the middle and upper strata of the society. Moreover, regulations prevent cash withdrawal from gift cards in India. Therefore using BitGifting card for Zakat, which is a charitable donation, in India may not find many takers. In markets like the UAE and the other parts of the Middle-East, it can be a powerful tool.
What have you done in Dubai? We've licenced the BitGifting platform for a closed-loop implementation to the Majid Al Futtaim group to run a gift-registry programme in their malls in the UAE and elsewhere. This is a unique proposition where the card generated at the end of the gifting process can be used in the stores across their malls. The beta version of the platform has gone live and we're waiting for the full-fledged launch.
Furthermore, we're looking at Dubai as the hub for taking the concept to West Asian and African countries. Since the concept is woven largely around your Facebook friends, the platform would do well if we do regional implementations.
Are you planning any events during Ramadan? When we launch the platform in the Middle East, we'll have many events and launches specific for the holy month of Ramadan. At this point, we are working on the technicalities of region-wide implementation of the concept and initial traction. With high internet penetration and wide card acceptance, we are optimistic about the size of the opportunity.
Finally, how do you scale BitGifting as global movement? As mentioned earlier, the user-behaviour on our platform is mapped to the leading social networks. Our personal networks on platforms like Facebook span across the world and like-minded friends from any country are free to connect and engage on it. Thanks to Facebook, more birthday and wedding/engagement wishes are being exchanged than they ever did. This is where BitGifting is a great opportunity where the platform would allow friends from across the globe to come together and contribute to a common gift. Because of financial regulations, it's tougher to achieve than merely wishing people, it's a possibility and we're working hard to create a feasible global solution that can be made available to users in most countries.
The writer is a global leader and head of Islamic Economy and senior partner at Dinarstandard. Views expressed by him are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy (c) 2014 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).
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