A report released Tuesday (Dec. 8) projected U.S. gift card spend will hit $130 billion in 2015, an increase of more than six percent compared with last year. The stats from the ninth annual CEB TowerGroup report were hardly surprising, so why note it? Is it time the industry seriously considering changing the name of gift cards?
The stored value mechanisms are increasingly likely to be digital. And unlike their payment card counterparts—which even in Apple Pay appear as pictures of their plastic rectangular historical selves—the so-called giftcards are running away from their plastic ancestry. And run quickly they should.
The next step will be P2P transactions, with a parent or a friend zapping someone $100 that can only be spent at Walgreens. Shortly after that, the gift transaction might be limited to not a specific store, but to a product category. Why? Let’s say a parent is sending money to a college-attending offspring and wants the money going to grocery fruits and vegetables and not beer and music.
A gift amount—whether it’s P2P or some other digital transmission—that is limited is seen as more personal than the equivalent of “I stuck cash into your birthday card. Go get your something nice. I’d have done that myself, but you’re not quite worth that kind of time.”
But no matter the specific uses, monetary gifts from shoppers to shoppers is going to be changing radically over the next 18 months or so. And especially when a younger shopper is the target, do you really want your offering labeled “card”? Every mobile startup will be offering a wide range of ways of giving digital money to people and none of them will use the word card or plastic.
There are some serious and technologically difficult roads ahead for PFs who are literally rewriting the payments landscape. You have enough obstacles without perpetuating a term that will make the coolest digital service you offer seem quaint. Life is hard. Ditching the word “card” shouldn’t be.