Digital Commerce

How prepaid and eGifts can boost engagement in the payments space

Mary Meeker's annual internet trends report highlights insights into consumers' online behaviors, and many apply to the payments industry.

A lot of these internet trends illuminate ways payments professionals can best engage with customers moving into the future. Of particular note is how digital branded payments — payments tools like virtual prepaid and egift cards that can be company branded — can be used to drive action.

Skipping costly customer acquisition pursuits

The costs of attracting new customers are rising as consumers become increasingly informed in their shopping decisions. The pace is often unsustainable since customers' revenue potential simply isn't always cost-effective.

Meeker suggests inexpensive promotions like free trials to manage costs and attract customers. Leveraging popular forms of branded payments like prepaid, gift card and egift rewards have been proven to encourage social media interactions, increase basket size and more.

eGifts are also effective tools at boosting loyalty because consumers appreciate their flexibility and versatility. They can be delivered quickly (often within minutes) and redeemed in-store, online and via mobile for what the recipient chooses. Offering smart ways for existing customers to remain engaged with your brand helps circumvent the need to claw for attention in crowded, saturated markets.

Leveraging gift card ecommerce opportunities

Meeker reports that ecommerce now accounts for 15% of retail sales — with a growth rate far exceeding brick-and-mortar.

In addition to being beneficial payments tools, branded payments in the form of gift cards are lucrative products to sell online in digital or physical form. According to Mercator Advisory Group, gift card sales are projected to reach $171.5 billion in 2019. Yet research from NAPCO found that fewer than half of the world's most prominent retailers successfully execute online gift card programs; this is where businesses can have an edge.

By stocking their digital shelves with gift cards, making gift cards easy to find online and enabling seamless checkout — just like they would at a brick-and-mortar — businesses can tap into the vast online buying potential currently being overlooked.

Gaming and streaming

Meeker's report found that the number of worldwide gamers grew to 2.4 billion last year and tens of millions pay to subscribe to gaming services and streaming platforms. Unlike games of the past, newer titles like Fortnite have more than a singular goal to save the princess or complete certain missions. They are now a way for people to interact with each other socially, feature events to watch others play (just like sports on TV) and offer in-game experiences outside of the game itself such as miniature, limited-time-only contests to test players' skills.

Despite the fact that gamers are digitally advanced and interact digitally with brands, many global customers rely on gift cards and prepaid cards to gain access to the digital ecosystem. Whether it is buying gift cards in your local store with cash or parents using gift cards as a budget-management tool, branded payments are a critical hub fueling gaming growth. Gaming isn't cheap, and branded payments like open-loop prepaid cards and gift cards can help drive online revenue outside of traditional credit and debit card payments.

And there's an added perk for parents or those sticking to a budget; these cards are loaded with limited funds—helping prevent users from racking up unwanted or unmonitored charges on a credit card. Some can also be reloaded when funds are depleted. These digital payments connections provide several touchpoint opportunities that make first time and repeat purchases easy.

Including imagery at checkout

People are increasingly using images to communicate thanks to technology developments like faster wifi, the proliferation of social media and sophisticated mobile device cameras. Branded payments like gift cards ride this wave because they act as mini billboards in peoples' wallets —digital or physical.

Businesses have a prime opportunity to display their brand prominently (for free!) during the payments process — which can't be circumvented. This reinforces the brand experience and creates a positive interaction that resonates.

The report provides a large amount of data, including the insight that by using branded payments like gift cards and gifts, businesses can better retain loyal customers, attract new ones and avoid missed opportunities to drive revenue.



This article was written by Theresa McEndree from Mobile Payments Today. News Features and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to