Two years after Square announced it was offering a virtual gift card service, it’s nixing the program in favor of physical ones.
That may sound counter intuitive in today’s digital-first culture, but apparently not everything works better electronically.
Starting today, Square said businesses will be able to order gift cards from Square and resell them to their customers, just in time for the holidays. The digital gift cards were discontinued before adding physical ones, so it wasn’t a true swap with one replacing the other.
A spokesman confirmed the San Francisco payment company, which normally prides itself for operating over cutting edge technology, like iPhones and iPads, was no longer offering digital gift cards. The cards were apart of the now obsolete Square Wallet iPhone application.
“We learned a lot from offering a digital gift card solution to our buyers when building Square Wallet,” the spokesman said. “While buyers enjoyed sending and receiving gift cards within the app, it was clear that the real value is in the form of a tool for sellers to make more sales and increase their bottom line, so that’s what we built.”
While the new physical gift cards won’t eliminate any clutter from a customer’s purse or wallet, they will likely appeal to small businesses, which may be looking for an easy way to upgrade from a paper-tracking system involving printed gift certificates.
Here’s the details: Square’s business customers can order gift cards at a cost of $1.50 each. There are no additional subscription, redemption or transaction fees associated with the cost, and sellers will also receive funds from the sale of each card the next business day after one is purchased (rather than waiting until they are redeemed).
In May, Square gave up on Wallet. As originally envisioned, the app was intended to allow customers to pay by giving the cashier his or her name at the register.
Instead, the company is now focusing on building back-end tools for small businesses, such as invoices, online scheduling and now gift cards. It also offers consumer two services, Square Order and Square Cash, which respectively lets you place orders from restaurants for pick-up and enables person-to-person payments.