Raise, operator of a marketplace offering discounted gift cards, has launched a new mobile wallet app that makes it easier for consumers to buy gift cards from Raise and redeem them in-store and online with the company’s retailer and brand partners, the company said in a press release.
The app, for iOS and Android mobile devices, features a redesigned shopping cart and optimized three-step checkout process, as well as support for purchases with credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. Raise also said the new check out process leverages purchaser data already stored in the Apple Pay and Android Pay platforms.
The app has also improved a capability that allows users to quickly load data from gift cards purchased elsewhere so that they can be used for purchases via Raise’s app. The new app also includes a location awareness capability that pushes notifications to users to let them know about nearby merchants where they can use their digitally stored gift cards.
Raise is known as a marketplace for buying and selling discounted gift cards from 300 retailer partners and 3,000 brands, and that's been its focus since at least late 2014. But with this announcement, Raise is changing its focus to provide a mobile payment app, albeit one with the twist that consumers also can store and use various gift cards through the app. Raise said in a statement that the launch of the new app is the first of many changes as the company moves toward a mobile-first model.
To get its two million users to go along with that change, Raise needs to provide them with the right tools to allow them to quickly redeem the cards they buy in stores or online. CEB TowerGroup has estimated that $130 billion worth of gift cards were purchased in 2015, but also that about $1 billion in gift card balances go unused on an annual basis. Getting people to use them requires streamlined redemption — and a reminder once in a while isn't a bad idea.
The location-aware push notifications are just that sort of reminder, letting consumers know which cards stored in their Raise wallet can be spent at stores and restaurants in close proximity. In addition to the other features mentioned above, the mobile wallet app also have feature that improve the customer experience for gift card shopper using Raise's marketplace. One such feature is the ability to "reserve" a gift card in the app shopping cart for up to five minutes, in order to stop other buyers from purchasing that card off the marketplace in the meantime.
The new Raise app also supports easier and faster access to gift cards bought on Raise, along with other marketplaces, for an enhanced redemption experience. This includes straightforward redemption methods with expanded support for more types of POS systems, better balance tracking and card management capabilities, the company said.
Raise is not alone in the secondary market for gift cards. Companies such as Gift Card Granny, CardCash and Cardpool offer similar services, but Raise's mobile wallet ambition seems to set it apart for now.