Gift cards are pretty popular but also hated. Why are they hated? Because you always end up with a gift card to a place that you don’t go to. Getting the prepaid “credit” card ones that you can use anywhere are way better. Despite that, Facebook today introduced a reloadable multi-store gift card that will be rolling out to Facebook users in the US sometime soon.
The way it works will be a friend can buy you a gift card to places like Target. If this is your first gift then you will be sent a Facebook gift card. Other people can send you gift cards to other stores and they will automatically be added to you current card. You can only spend the gift money you have for that particular store so it doesn’t work like a pool of cash to use anywhere.
So what this does is eliminate the need to carry around multiple gift cards. The problem is that we should be eliminating the need for gift cards completely. Starbucks has already gone in that direction, I can use my reloadable gift card to pay or whip out my phone and have them scan the barcode. Another issue that I see, that they can easily overcome is having a peer-to-peer market place for trading gift card balances. Let’s say someone gave me $10 to Walmart but I don’t go there, I could go in the market and see someone wan’t Walmart and they are offering $10 to Footlocker. I can accept that and the trade happens instantly.
A feature that I would be cool to see depending on the legal issues is, let’s say I want to buy a gift card for a friend but I don’t know where they shop. Facebook can tell me based on their spending habits to buy a gift card for this store vs another. Like I said though, legal issues and privacy, I don’t know if that could be implemented.
What do you guys think about this?