Mastercard announced on Monday that it has partnered with CleverCards and Appreciate Group to introduce a fully digital gift card. Consumers can send a gift card immediately via email, text or messaging app, according to a company press release.
Digital gift card recipients can add their gift cards to their mobile wallets and use their gift cards online and in-store with 61 U.K. retailers, such as Topshop, TK Maxx and John Lewis, per the company statement.
The press release also notes that CleverCards has plans to expand its platform across debit cards, expense cards, corporate and customer rewards and other payment tools.
Mastercard's e-gift card launch is the latest partnership the payments company has engaged in to expand its retail and international footprint. In September, the company teamed up with Levi Strauss & Co., Marks & Spencer, VF Corporation and the Business for Social Responsibility to provide digital payments to garment workers. Among Mastercard's most notable initiatives in 2019 was its backing of Apple's debut credit card. It's also worth noting that the company acquired Ethoca, the fintech firm which operates an international network of more than 5,000 merchants and 4,000 financial institutions.
As the payments company noted in its press release, part of its reasoning to issue digital e-gift cards is to simplify checking balances for consumers as well as cutting down on gift card production and distribution headaches.
"We want to offer consumers the option to pay how they want when they want," Scott Abrahams, senior vice president of business development at Mastercard, said in a statement. Abrahams also noted that the companies were "revolutioniz[ing] the gift card industry by making it as simple as paying by any other payments method."
As the holidays quickly approach, the partnership potentially comes at a good time for shoppers. Earlier this year, Blackhawk Network research found Gen Z and millennial consumers are purchasing more e-gift cards than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts. Per research from the National Research Foundation, 59% of consumers want to receive gift cards during the 2019 holiday season. This holiday season, consumers plan to spend more than $200 on gift cards, a Blackhawk Network BrandedPay survey found.