12 innovations around Christmas - 4: The gift card

Have you received money as a gift? I know I have. Money is a common gift for a birthday, a wedding or at Christmas time. A shift in the 21st century of the cash gift has been the rise of the gift card. 

The availability of gift cards has exploded over the past few years. There is now a huge amount of gift cards and stores that can redeem them, for a wide variety of ages and interests.

Australia’s larger companies including Coles, Woolworths and Westfield provide gift cards that are redeemable across multiple locations. For Coles and Woolworths, the flexibility of using these gift cards across their network of businesses means you aren’t tied to a specific store. For Westfield cards, the ability to use them in most stores within a Westfield mall allows the customer more choice for shopping. .

These cards are easy to use and remove the risk of ‘buying the wrong gift’, but some say they are a lazy gift option. While it may not be the best gift, in this author’s opinion, it certainly avoids buying the wrong thing, and removes the risk of a cash gift disappearing without a trace.

Newer gift cards have additional security features over gifting in cash. Including a PIN on these cards adds a layer of security, but as most of these appear on the card itself they offer limited protection if the card goes missing. Newer platforms in the gift card space are tied to email addresses, phone numbers or mobile phone apps. These meangift card holders have additional security. They can also monitor their card balances and expiry dates. 

Innovations in the gift card space, and the growth of high speed internet have meant that companies like Microsoft, Sony and Valve Corporation can offer purchases online through their gaming platforms: Xbox Live, Playstation Network and Steam. Like other gift cards, these can be purchased in store through major retailers and are later redeemed on the selected platform online. These cards offer digital purchases of games, season passes, downloadable content (DLC) and other online packs without the need for the use of a credit card online or purchasing of physical products.

While a simple gift card might not be eligible as a patent, the process of manufacturing a gift card could be. And the brands that appear on those gift cards may be visible on our trade marks search tool, ATMOSS.

The availability of these new types of gift card, and the spectrum of businesses with their own gift cards available, shows the ongoing rise of gift cards as a gift. It certainly makes my Christmas shopping easier!

15 December 2016