Solutions are on the way, though they’re not coming from who you might expect — not American Express or Bancorp (issuer of the popular Vanilla Visa Gift Card), but from a set of smaller companies and startups. Ya know, because why would the parties responsible for issuing and selling give a care?
Cardpool is a nine-year old gift card exchange owned by Cashstar. They do this the right way, where gift card sellers sell the card to Cardpool itself rather than to another person on a marketplace. The company role as an intermediate step allows Cardpool to verify amounts and potentially take other steps (like transfer the balance to a new number) to ensure the eventual buyer gets what they paid for.
While that’s a great immediate step to address some of the problem, other companies are entering the picture with their eyes on the entire prize.
Tokky, a new entrant to the space, shifts the experience from the existing (plastic or code) experience onto a new, open-source, blockchain-based platform.
Perhaps most importantly, Tokky leverages blockchain to link each gift card with a user account — this logs ownership, secures against theft or unwanted transfers, and serves as a guard against money laundering. The firm plans to offer a secondary marketplace for cards of all amounts, whether it’s the leftover $0.71 or the full $50.00.
The ambitious project, which also includes point of sale software and an end-user mobile app, is set to release a public beta this fall. You can register for more information on their website.