Among payment devices, gift cards are unique in that they can promote a business as well as enable payments at the store or online. That’s an edge at a time of a pandemic, and now technology platforms that support digital gift cards are leveraging that advantage. Yiftee Inc. late on Thursday announced it will allow local businesses to promote their digital cards on the powerful Facebook and Instagram sites.
The new channel allows businesses to feature their branded gift cards on Facebook and have them aimed at their local communities. Users who want the cards can then buy them on Yiftee, an 8-year-old digital gift card platform. On Instagram, which Facebook acquired in 2012, merchants can add a button to their profile allowing users to buy the cards on Yiftee, which also allows merchants to promote their cards with a sticker in the Stories section. Consumers can share the sticker in their own Stories, Yiftee says. Both the button and the stickers link to a branded merchant page to buy the cards.
Menlo Park, Calif.-based Yiftee supports gift and so-called community cards for more than 2,000 local businesses. Community cards can be redeemed across groups of businesses in a town.
The new feature “is a way for people to support local businesses. The money [on the cards] is going to local businesses now, in the wake of the Covid-19 storm” says a Yiftee spokesperson. “It’s difficult for small businesses to reach a lot of consumers,” she adds, but the new program allows them to “leverage the reach of Facebook.”
Experts say the social-media angle can prove to be crucial for local businesses. “Many small businesses have not done digital gift cards or even sold online, particularly if they are a service business like a hair salon. But many of these companies have strong social-media presences because posting pictures is a good way to advertise their services,” says Ben Jackson, chief operating officer at the Washington, D.C.-based Innovative Payments Association, in an email message. “Having a way to turn browsing into sales at a time when people want to be supportive could be valuable for these businesses.”
The digital cards can be redeemed online or in the store for merchants that remain open during the pandemic. For in-store transactions, the clerk enters the card’s number in a portal provided by Yiftee, which handles security, card delivery over email, text, or print, and analytics, as well as transaction processing.
In the announcement, the company says it is waiving its $29.95 monthly subscription fee through Sept. 30 “and will reassess at that time.” Users pay a $1 plus 5% processing fee, though Yiftee says issuers may opt to cover that cost.