Convenience appears to be the main driver behind the strong growth of KakaoTalk’s gift business, which tripled in size in only two years between 2017 and 2019 in the service's native South Korea. KakaoTalk Gift lets users of the messenger app send gift cards through the chat program or ship other gifts to a friend’s or family member’s house. It is expected to have generated annual revenues of 3 trillion Won in 2019.
According to KakaoTalk, Starbucks gift cards were the most popular product on the platform, followed by gift cards for Baskin Robbins and the Shinsegae department store. According to the KakaoTalk CEO, most recent growth was in connection to the KakaoTalk feature “Friends with Birthdays”, launched in 2018. Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year are also peak times for the service.
There are currently 6,000 partners listing gifts on the app in South Korea, which offers a variety of services ranging from Groupon-like deals, payment and gaming.
KakaoTalk is installed on 93 percent of all smartphones in South Korea according to Nielsen.