Miconex has launched a first of its kind digital gifting product for towns and cities, under its new global Love Local brand. The digital gift card will work through the MasterCard network and digital wallet services such as Apple Pay, and is Miconex’s latest initiative alongside EML Payments Limited.
Miconex operates over 100 Town and City Gift Card programmes around the UK and Ireland, and Downtown Gift Card systems across North America, which unify a wide range of businesses behind a local gift card to create a secure, flexible gift and reward product for consumers and employers. A Love Local app developed by the payments provider to accompany the new digital gift card will enable recipients to add the digital gift card balance to their Apple Wallet, or other digital wallets, view participating businesses, see their balance and spend online or in-store.
“The shop local sentiment is evident in our work with programmes in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the US. Developing the Love Local brand allows us to convert that love local sentiment into spend, in a brand that will be as recognised and understood in Cambridge UK as Cambridge Canada. The Love Local brand also provides us with flexibility as we continue to develop new products for different use cases, and new tools for businesses and places to interact directly with an engaged consumer audience. The potential for Love Local is huge.”
Digital Gift Cards
The 2021 GCVA State of the Nation report suggests that the pandemic has accelerated the trend for digital gift cards, with 38.4% of respondents converting to digital gift cards. Whilst in-store redemption remains the most popular way to spend gift cards (54.8%), this has decreased considerably vs. 2019 (69.6%) indicating a trend towards online and mobile redemption. 21.6% of respondents redeemed their gift card via mobile in 2020, up from 11.4% in 2019.
There is also a clear move towards local shopping, with a reported 2000% year on year increase in online searches for ‘support local businesses’ in 2020. The GCVA found that almost a quarter of consumers (24.5%) purchasing a gift card for someone else in June 2021 did so to support local businesses and/or their local high street, with a similar percentage (24.9%) planning to continue to use gift cards to support local businesses.
It is estimated that by 2023, almost 12 million people in the UK will use their phones as their primary payment method. In 2019, 81% of Brits were using some form of online payment, the highest percentage in the world. By 2022, mobile payments are projected to overtake both cash and credit card as the preferred payment method, second only to debit card.
Research shows a link between age and the use of digital wallets. 48% of 18-34 year olds have a digital wallet, falling to 44% of 35-44s, 37% of 45-54s, 29% of 55-64s and 22% of 65 plus users. Mr Munro believes their new digital gifting product will help towns and cities to engage a younger demographic:
“Data from our 2020 Christmas period sales showed that our gift card transactions were largely driven by Boomers (55 plus) at 34.88% and Generation X (35-54) at 32.33%, demonstrating the growth potential of the Millennial (25-34) and Generation Z (16-24) age groups. We also know that it is younger consumers that are particularly driven to support local through gift card purchases, 17.1% across the generations in 2020, but 25.2% in the 25-44 age group.”
Benefits of digital gift cards noted by consumers include the perception that it is easier to shop online with a digital gift card, plus sustainability and environmental benefits. A trend towards omnichannel redemption was also noted by the GCVA, with 62.6% of respondents expecting flexibility in where gift cards can be used. Mr Munro adds:
“With a digital gift card in their armoury, towns and cities can appeal to a wide range of consumers, but by combining a digital gift card with a physical gift card, places can give customers the ultimate choice and flexibility in how they spend their gift cards, which is what they will increasingly expect.”