Ryo Okubo And Giftee Malaysia Are Bringing The Digital Gift Solutions To The Next Level

It is believed that the eGift market within Malaysian consumers is only at its early stage. Well, one way to find out. A chat with Giftee Malaysia’s COO, Ryo Okubo.


RUZANNA LISA: Hello Okubo-San. It’s so nice to virtually meet you and I hope you are doing well. So, tell me a little bit about yourself and Giftee Malaysia.

RYO OKUBO: My name is Ryo and I am the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Giftee Malaysia. Giftee Malaysia was established in 2018 September so it’s been over three years in the Malaysian market. We are providing digital gift solutions to brands – Starbucks, Tealive, Secret Recipe and over 30 brands and corporate clients mainly banking, insurance, telecommunication, and employee benefit industries. 


RUZANNA LISA: As the Chief Operating Officer at Giftee Malaysia, what made you want to collaborate with Lazo Diamond. What’s the story behind it and would there be other collaborations in the future?

RYO OKUBO: To begin with, Lazo Diamond is a well-known high-end brand in the market, so there are no good reasons not to work with them. So far, we’ve focused on F&B brands as partners, but we’ve noticed that there’s a lot of eGift demands for high-end brands from both our Malaysian consumers and the companies we work with. This is the first time in Giftee’s history that we’ve worked with a jewellery brand, and I’m very excited about it. We’re looking forward to more things and collaborations in the future with similar brands because it is undeniable that jewellery is the best gift, and it always has been and always will be.


RUZANNA LISA: In your opinion, how do you think the Malaysian market would react to the eGift system? How would you go about convincing them to accept it?

RYO OKUBO: I believe the eGift market within Malaysian consumers is only at its early stage and definitely the growth of market penetration and engagement has been increasing from time to time. For me, the reaction from our business partners has been very positive so far. Of course, there are still more aspects that we need to get into, along with recent updates for our system as what we are doing is still not convincing enough. Worry not, we are bringing the best solutions to overcome this challenge for our current and future business partners to elevate their overall business digitalisation.

Furthermore, eGifts have become an increasingly popular option among Malaysian consumers and companies. Gift giving is as simple as sending a URL to the recipient. Furthermore, there are no physical products that must be moved, which contributes to lower CO2 emissions from logistics services as well as lower packaging waste. This is seen as a plus for our eGift system, especially among Malaysians who are becoming more environmentally conscious.

Plus, the physical gift card industry in Malaysia has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, despite growing steadily by almost 20% from 2015-2019. Hence, the decline of physical gift cards has led to an accelerated adoption of eGifts, and it is expected to increase significantly for this year. Other than individual consumers, corporate eGifting is also becoming a trendy tool used by companies to reward and express appreciation to their workers.


RUZANNA LISA: How effective is having eGifts as an incentive in promotional campaigns? How does the ‘giftee Box’ work?

RYO OKUBO: Actually, it is very impactful because everyone participates in the promotional campaigns. I mean, who doesn’t like a good promotion? Let me give you an example. Suppose you opened a bank account and the bank gave you a gift as a “Thank you for applying to our bank account.” That’s fantastic, right? However, you may not receive the gift right away. When it comes to eGifts, we can make it so that you receive them right away. It is extremely convenient and saves time.

In terms of the giftee Box, we discovered that most campaign owners nowadays are always the ones who decide on the gifts or incentives for their customers. As a result, what distinguishes our giftee Box is that the consumers decide what they want as an incentive or a gift. This is because everyone has different preferences and tastes, for instance, some people prefer milk bubble tea, while others prefer coffee. As a result, giftee Box was introduced to cater to their preferences, and it is now successfully penetrating the Malaysian market.

Companies running our eGift campaign will be able to lower their promotional campaign costs too since there will be no inventory management required, and shipping and personnel costs will be reduced. Thus, companies can promote sales with dramatic cost reductions of more than 50%. As of end of February 2022, we are currently distributing to about 900 projects  across banking, consumer electronics, insurance and internet industries, such as Maybank, Prudential, Samsung and Lazada, to help with their marketing and promotion activities with our e-vouchers and promotion solutions. 


RUZANNA LISA: Nowadays, a lot of businesses and companies are leaning more towards digital transformation. In your perspective, what is the growth strategy of Giftee Malaysia following Malaysia’s rapid digital transformation? 

RYO OKUBO:  The word digitalisation itself is too big to describe first of all since every company has their own different strategies and demands. But in our case, we are very flexible in our digital transformation strategies as we are doing as much as we can to assist and reach the goals of our business partners with the digital solutions that we are offering. That is the reason why we have been approaching and investing in a few companies in Southeast Asia since we wanted our partners to know more about Giftee and the convenience behind it. 

We believe that many companies in Malaysia want to digitise their gifting services as a part of their digitalisation transformation roadmap but they do not know how to do so. For instance, traditional promotional campaigns often use physical vouchers and manpower to distribute paper vouchers in which it can be difficult and tedious to track them. This is where Giftee Malaysia comes in.

Our eGift system makes tracking easier as printing, physical distribution and inventory management are no longer required. I remember the first time when e-Wallets were introduced in Malaysia. The e-wallet adoption rate and frequency of use is higher in Malaysia than in Japan. In this regard, Japan is still catching up with Malaysia, and perhaps may even use Malaysia as a case study as Malaysia’s digitalisation speed is faster than Japan, and in my opinion, is the fastest nation to adapt to digitalisation in the Southeast Asian region. We hope that the case is the same when it comes to eGifts.

Hence, it is undeniable that Giftee Malaysia has a lot of potential to enter the market with a first-mover advantage.


RUZANNA LISA: The concept of eGifts is truly wonderful; can you explain how they are unique and act as an exponential marketing opportunity to touch not just the ones buying the gift but also the ones receiving the gift.

RYO OKUBO: The fact that the process is simple, regardless of generation or age, makes the concept of eGifts truly wonderful. For our business partners, our eGifts solution has been proven to become a new revenue model in their process of digitisation. Consumers or recipients will not have to go through a complicated process to claim their eGifts. They would not have to register for anything if they received an eGift, and they could receive their eGifts immediately with a few clicks on their mobile device. 

Every day, people engage with and use our eGift system, and I never imagined that Giftee would grow into something bigger than I had anticipated.


RUZANNA LISA: On that final note, how would one find you should they want to learn more about Giftee Malaysia on the Social Media platforms?

RYO OKUBO: We have our own official website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and we welcome messages from anyone. I understand that during this unfortunate pandemic period, it has been difficult for people all over the world to connect with one another, attend online meetings, and so on, but I’d say let’s make the best of it and meet the challenges and solve them as a team. We want to be as accessible as possible, just like our eGift system.

  • Ruzanna Lisa

    To this day, I still believe that everything happens for a reason and my life long dream of becoming a writer is finally in full swing and I owe it all to chance.