Facebook recently announced the “Facebook Card,” which is a new way for people to give their friends gifts to places 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 a certain retail outlet. 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 are not really 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.” (referring to retail outlets in the US).
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.
The Facebook Card is rolling out gradually to U.S. users now and soon to the rest of the 1 billion Facebook population worldwide we hope.