Facebook Gifts were one of the lower points of Facebook’s earnings yesterday, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t continuing to innovate on the gifting front. Today, it announced the “Facebook Card,” which is a new way for people to give their friends gifts to places like Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora, and Target, all on one reusable gift card purchased from Facebook.
To use the card, you first select the gift you want to give a friend – for example, $25 to spend at Target. After paying for the card online, your friend is immediately notified of your gift, and will receive their Facebook Card in the mail a few days later. They can then redeem the gift card at the retailer you specified.
Gift recipients can view their gift balances in their account settings on Facebook from either their phone or desktop, the company says. And Facebook will use push notifications to alert users to balance changes. This move could foreshadow increased integration of Gifts and Payments on mobile in the future, but for now things are still in plastic card territory.
This isn’t Facebook’s first foray into digital gifts, however; the company introduced iTunes credits this past November.
While gift cards in and of themselves are not exactly a ground-breaking innovation, what is interesting about the new Facebook Cards is that they’re reusable. And not just with the original retailer – the cards can actually hold multiple gift balances, associated with the various retailers where you have received gifts from friends. Explains Facebook via blog post, “for example, you might have gift balances of $100 at Sephora, $75 at Target, $50 at Olive Garden, and $8.25 at Jamba Juice.”
The move puts Facebook directly into users’ real-world wallets, and may make Gift transactions more appealing since they no longer involve you having to select a particular gift for a friend, which is then shipped to their house. In today’s digital world, physical gifts are a much grander gesture than gift cards or credits, so for more minor celebrations, a token amount of $10 for a smoothie or two may make more sense.
During Facebook’s Q4 2012 earnings call yesterday, Facebook said its Gifts product and promoted user posts functionality accounted for less than $5 million of Facebook’s overall revenue. In addition, payments revenue was flat overall in the quarter. But online gifting is still a new area for the company, and it’s clear that it has ideas as to how this segment of its business can grow.
The Facebook Card is rolling out gradually to U.S. users now.