Commonwealth Bank has announced a new strategic partnership with gift card disrupter Karta to revolutionise the gifting experience for consumers and businesses.

The partnership will include CBA investing new capital in Karta in exchange for a 20 per cent shareholding in the Australian-based company.

Karta is a start-up gift card platform developed by a team of gift card and payments experts. Karta brings together technology and gifting experiences to simplify gift cards for consumers and businesses. 

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The partnership with Karta strengthens CommBank’s Shopping offering following the Group’s investment in online shopping hub, Little Birdie, earlier this year. CBA’s Shopping offering also comprises its 50-50 joint venture with Klarna Australia and the bank’s cashback program, CommBank Rewards.

Kate Crous, CBA’s Executive General Manager, Everyday Banking, said: “Shopping is an area where consumers expect more sophisticated offerings and experiences.

“We want to reimagine the shopping experiences for Australians. Simplifying the purchase, delivery and use of gift cards and enabling more businesses to participate in this market will enable CBA customers to better support businesses they love.  

“Through our new partnership with Karta, we will revolutionise gift cards as we know them by allowing consumers to purchase a gift card from any participating business, gift it electronically to anyone, anywhere. And their friend or loved one can redeem it from their digital wallet anytime.

“By bringing together our market-leading CommBank app, rich customer data and extensive business relationships, we can create more personalised shopping experiences for consumers and businesses. And we expect to continue to evolve our Shopping offering,” Ms Crous said.

David Anderson, Karta CEO said: “Gift cards are a core part of the shopping experience and it is estimated that the pre-paid card market in Australia will grow to $40 billion in the next five years. While gift cards have existed for nearly 30 years, they have not evolved to meet consumer needs and preferences as they have transitioned to online shopping and digital payments.

“Consumers and businesses are often left frustrated by restrictive expiry dates, burdensome costs to administer gift cards, wastage on cards, as well as the costly investment to integrate gifting into merchant systems. Technology has changed but gifting has not.  

“Karta’s technology platform is scalable globally and is bolstered by a multi-year strategic partnership with Mastercard, leveraging the payment company’s network and tokenisation technology. This means that Karta gift cards can be used at any participating business that accepts Mastercard, with no integration needed at the point of sale what-so-ever," Mr Anderson said.

With Karta the gifting experience has clear benefits for both consumers and businesses. These include:

  • Shoppers can purchase gift cards from any participating retailer digitally and physically;
  • This new strategic partnership will also help to drive leads to businesses; and
  • There are no integration costs for businesses.

Karta will be available to shoppers from early 2022.

Notes to editors

The prepaid card industry in Australia is expected to reach USD$22bn (AU$29bn) in 2021 and US$30bn (AU$40bn) by 2025. Source: Research and Markets

About CBA’s Shopping offering

CommBank’s Shopping offering includes its partnerships with Karta, Little Birdie, Klarna and the bank’s cashback program, CommBank Rewards. Since its launch in August, online shopping homepage Little Birdie has generated over 400,000 merchant referrals.

About Karta

Karta is a gift card platform which aims to simplify the gift card experience by making it more accessible for merchants and consumers. It is aiming to remodel the gift card market to both provide access to more merchants for whom it is uneconomic today, as well as changing the economic model so revenue is not dependent on “breakage” (consumers not spending).