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PayPal boosts mobile gift cards strategy with ePay partnership

Digital gift card content from ePay will now be available through PayPal’s Digital Gift store at the mobile-optimized site As mobile gift cards become more popular and almost expected from consumers, partnerships like this can help PayPal get ahead in the game.

“At PayPal we strive to deliver simplicity, ease of use and security for consumers and merchants,” said Patrick Gauthier, emerging retail services general manager at PayPal, San Jose, CA. “Thanks to ePay, we are demonstrating this again as we bring the convenience of digital gifts to our customers, and will enable leading brands to connect with millions of PayPal customers worldwide.

“By collaborating with some of the most innovative brands, it allows us to offer incredible value to customers by integrating gift cards into their digital wallet online, on a mobile [device], tablet and more,” he said. “We want to be where people shop and spend money everyday, no matter which form factor they use or whatever brand they choose. Collaborating with a company like ePay allows us to reach that goal faster.

“At PayPal we take a mobile approach in everything we do, because mobile will serve as a key driver when it comes to people shopping and/or spending money. By integrating great brands into consumers’ digital wallets with PayPal and ePay, they can redeem gift cards wherever they shop – online, on a mobile or tablet or in a store.”

Digital codes
PayPal users in the United States, Britain and Germany will be able to access the ePay digital gift cards by logging in to their PayPal account online or within their mobile application.

The gift codes are available in different denominations and can be delivered via email. Consumers can use funds from their PayPal account to pay for the gift codes.

When consumers visit the PayPal digital gift card site, they are able to buy iTunes codes for $15, $25, $50 or $100. They can then select “Buy for me” or “Gift”.

By enabling a simple digital gift code, PayPal lets consumers avoid having to remember to bring a physical gift card to a store. They can simply open an email on their phone and redeem the code.

This allows for a streamlined and easy experience both for in-store and online shopping.

Mobile gifting
While it seems obvious and simple to offer mobile gift cards, many retailers are still lagging.

According to a September report from RSR Research, most retailers do not offer any mobile integration for gift cards (see story).

This presents a huge opportunity for players such as PayPal and Amazon to step in and provide a solution.

Amazon rolled out an interesting new digital gift card offering this summer called Amazon Birthday Gift, which lets users create a digital gift card on Facebook and then invite anyone in their social network to contribute (see story).

“Mobile is a natural evolution for gift cards,” said Alex Campbell, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Vibes, Chicago. “No one loves keeping track of physical or digital gift cards so the fact that my mobile phone can do that, and have them with me at all times, makes the mobile phone a great tool for digital gift cards.”

Mr. Campbell is not affiliated with PayPal or ePay. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Looking forward, Mr. Campbell expects mobile gift cards to get even more sophisticated.

“I’m most excited to see mobile gift cards start to use the functionality of the phone in 2014,” he said. “Gift cards that are more interactive or that change based on time or location should really help open up new possibilities for digital gift cards.

“While 2013 was all about mobilizing digital gift cards, I’d expect 2014 to be all about bringing unique mobile functionality to digital gift cards,” he said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York