November 28, 2011

Gift Card Kiosks Roll Out In 100 Malls

Vending Times picks up Tom Smith Self Service Networks rollout announcement for gift card kiosks. Old timers will remember MontegoNet back from late 1990s. Smith is one of the true industry pioneers.

Gift Card Kiosks Roll Out In 100 Malls | Articles | Vending Features | Vending Times Inc.

CHICAGO -- General Growth Properties is deploying GiftWise gift card vending kiosks at its 100 of its shopping malls in time for the holiday shopping season.

The kiosks, manufactured by Middletown, RI-based Self-Service Networks, come in indoor and outdoor models that allow mall visitors to buy gift cards around the clock. They can also capture customer information, dispense coupons and display advertising.

Founded in 1996 by Thomas Smith, Self-Service Networks, formerly MontegoNet, regards itself as a pioneer in the interactive kiosk and self-service industry.

General Growth Properties, headquartered here, owns or has interest in 169 regional shopping malls in 43 states. The GGP portfolio totals roughly 200 million square feet of retail space and more than 24,000 stores. The 50-year-old real estate company emerged from bankruptcy a year ago after enormous debt pressures in 2008 forced it to seek Chapter 11 protection.

Gift Card Kiosks Roll Out In 100 Malls | Articles | Vending Features | Vending Times Inc.

Posted by staff at 08:02 AM

November 15, 2011

GiftWise Gift Card Vending Kiosk going in 100 GGP Malls

MIDDLETOWN, R.I., Nov 15, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Self-Service Networks is pleased to announce that General Growth Properties GGP -1.45% will deploy GiftWise, the gift card vending solution, at their properties prior to the 2011 holiday shopping season. GiftWise gives shopping centers a low cost way to present their gift card programs to shoppers.

GiftWise Gift Card Vending Kiosk going in 100 GGP Malls - MarketWatch

GiftWise Gift Card Vending Kiosk going in 100 GGP Malls

Kim Fuhrman, Vice President, Marketing & Gifting for General Growth Properties, said, "Our goal is to provide our shoppers with an added amenity, convenience, and above all, a great product. We want our shoppers to walk away knowing they just experienced the best shopping experience possible. A gift card vending kiosk is a great service, especially this time of year when we're all trying to fit in holiday and birthday parties during our busy schedules. A gift card is a quick, easy, and thoughtful gift idea."

Rick Wessels, EVP for www.Self Service Networks , said, "GGP's decision to adopt the GiftWise solution coincides with the release of several significant product enhancements. We have added a broad range of security, marketing and advertising features to GiftWise. It truly is a comprehensive solution for any organization that desires a low-cost prepaid card selling solution."

Available in outdoor, thru-wall and indoor configurations, the GiftWise kiosks enable 24/7 prepaid card sales in every type of environment. Additionally, GiftWise can be utilized to capture customer information, dispense coupons, display advertising and other functions that help shopping centers drive shoppers to their properties. To learn more about GiftWise visit .

About Self-Service Networks

Self-Service Networks is the leading provider of turnkey self-service solutions for kiosk, mobile, the Web and digital signage. Since 1996, we have helped a diverse range of clients improve overall performance and profitability by delivering engaging interaction experiences. We have helped clients like PepsiCo Inc., Thule, Inc., and Universal Studios by creating solutions customized to their sales and communications goals -- all while lowering operating costs. Let us show you how to empower your customers(TM). For more information, visit or call 888.666.8346.

SOURCE: Self-Service Networks

Self-Service Networks
Meggin French, 888-666-8346 x1
401-619-4610 (fax)
[email protected]

GiftWise Gift Card Vending Kiosk going in 100 GGP Malls - MarketWatch

GiftWise Gift Card Vending Kiosk going in 100 GGP Malls

Posted by staff at 07:11 AM

October 29, 2010

Vending machine eliminates wait for mall gift cards

Video story on new gift card vending machine deployed in malls in Rhode Island

Vending machine eliminates wait for mall gift cards | Turn to 10

When you shop for someone, you know it's not always easy to find that perfect gift.

Some like the option of gift cards.

"You just never know what anybody wants anymore. So, yeah, it's a good way to go," said one shopper.

And now there's a new way to go at Providence Place mall.

It looks and acts just like an ATM, only this vending machine doesn't kick out cash. It spits out mall gift cards.

The management at Providence Place is hoping that the vending machine will be a new convenience for customers.

Before, customers could only buy gift cards while the management office was open. The vending machine will make them available anytime the mall itself is open.

"There wasn't anywhere you could go and purchase any cards. On the weekends, there was frustration. So, we're excited to have this out for people to buy any time," said mall manager John Grayko.

It's all self-serve. There are preset denominations, plus a "choose your own amount" option.

"It gives you ability to purchase one or more cards, up to six cards, and up to $300 per transaction on your credit card," Grayko said.

The vending machine has been up and running only two weeks, but Grayko said the mall has already sold about 25 more cards per week than their normal average.

Mall managers said they expect that number to increase as they head into the all important holiday shopping season.

"It'll beat hanging out in line for an hour or better during the holidays. I think it's a great idea," the shop

There is a $3 transaction fee per gift cards, but the cards can be used anywhere American Express is accepted.

Posted by staff at 07:52 AM

May 07, 2009

Giesecke & Devrient unveils self service machine for card issuance

Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) presented the first functioning prototype of its new Instant Issuance Kiosk for payment cards at the Visa Europe Member Days in Berlin.

The exhibited product is a self-service machine for private customers, who can use it to issue their own prepaid cards. The machines can be installed anywhere - at train stations, airports, shopping centers, football stadiums, or in the self-service area of a branch bank. This innovative solution enables banks to significantly expand their service offering and improve customer loyalty, while also tapping new business segments and target groups. G&D presented the prototype in collaboration with Visa Europe, Wirecard Bank AG and the issuing processor Cetrel S.A.

G&D's new Instant Issuance Kiosk will enable banks to offer payment-card issuance services independently of their branches' working hours. The entire issuance process for payment cards can now be carried out without the need for any staff. Customers will be able to acquire a ready-to-use prepaid, debit, credit or contactless card any time, any place, and use it to shop in retail stores and online. This solution will also enable bank customers to quickly and conveniently replace lost or stolen cards whenever they need to.

Axel Deininger, Head of the Payment division at G&D, comments: "Our Instant Issuance Kiosk will make it possible for banks to flexibly extend and improve their service range at an affordable cost, and to strengthen the loyalty of their customers."

"This solution opens the door to easier issuance and distribution of fully personalized cards making it more viable to engage in entirely new business and customer segments - for example, prepaid cards, which are a safe and ideal way to manage your money, and which are widely accepted, for teenagers, students , travelers and the unbanked, as well as gift cards at shopping centers or contactless cards at train stations and stadiums" says Fiona Duncan, Head of the Prepaid Centre of Excellence at Visa Europe, describing just some of the potential uses for the new concept.

There are many clear advantages for private customers: the credit card would be immediately available in many different places, irrespective of a bank's opening hours. Moreover, the Instant Issuance Kiosks could attract new customers that were previously difficult to reach, accelerate the move to new business models such as cashless venues for sports events, large concerts or exhibitions. The added possibility of issuing payment cards as personal picture cards with selectable motifs also means that banks can satisfy their customers' individual tastes. This will strengthen customers' emotional ties with their bank.

Posted by staff at 02:26 PM

December 31, 2008

News - Gift card and Bill Pay solutions

News posted out on the new affiliate site of interest includes featured article on Nexxo money wiring kiosks targeted at user with family members in Mexico, Central America and South America.

Posted by staff at 06:56 AM

November 10, 2008

Gift Card Facts and Estimates

Tony Craddock at giftexprepay always has new and interesting facts on the gift card market. In his latest update he once again provides a few statistics and trends in the gift card market.

More findings to share with in the weeks ahead.
 What will be the impact on demand of open loop gift cards? Expenses/per diem cards? Remittance cards? And Foreign Exchange cards?
 Will network branded gift cards fare better than retailer branded gift cards?
 And where in the world do people think prepaid cards sold on third party malls and through the internet will do best?

G-T-P launches reloadable card for moviegoers

‘Bond. James Bond’ may have disappeared from the latest 007 movie but G-T-P, members of the Giftex Prepay Network, continue with their successful formula. They are partnering with U.K. movie theatre chain Empire Cinemas to offer the Film Card.

The reloadable prepaid card is available for purchase at all 17 Empire locations in and around London and can be used to purchase movie tickets online or in the theatre, either at the ticket counter or at self-serve kiosks. The card is reloadable at all those points as well and can be used to buy items at theatre concessions.

Helen Child, CEO of G-T-P explains that they have “provided a rapid route to market, allowing Empire Cinemas to capitalize on the pre-Christmas sales peak. “It’s a great time to launch because the high sales volumes will mean that the Empire Cinemas front-line staff really gets behind the card, which is essential in driving forward its success.”

Starbucks' new Gold Card part of holiday savings strategy

While many retailers will be aiming to ensure they get an adequate piece of the pie this Christmas, Starbucks seems to have already got their knife and fork in hand.

As we all know the mainstay of any business are the repeat purchasers, so in light of this Starbucks have come up with the ‘Gold Card’, a real back-to-basics card to make their core clientele feel extra-special.

This loyalty card costs $25 and entitles users to a 10% discount on most items (except gift cards and digital downloads), so regular users will start to see quick returns as long as they continue to fuel their caffeine habits.

This is a shrewd piece of sales from Starbucks as, when belts are being tightened, these sort of luxury purchases are often the first to be culled. The trick for Starbucks is to remain a premium brand but stay within reach of most consumers.

We eagerly await the results, but we would be surprised if this didn’t return some impressive figures.

National Retail Federation releases gift card data

The NRF 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey results have recently been reported.

According to the study, 54.9 percent of consumers would like to receive a gift card this holiday season and gift cards will be the most requested gift this year. The study results reported the main reasons that shoppers purchase gift cards are to allow the recipient to select their own gift (25.4%) and that they are easier and faster to buy than traditional gifts (12.6%). A reported 22.7% stated that they would be less likely to buy gift cards because they feel the cards are impersonal. The NRF also published several gift card shopping tips for consumers this holiday season.

Gift cards still tops, say Deloitte

For the fifth year in a row, gift cards are expected to lead holiday purchases this season, according to a survey released by Deloitte.

Of 13,276 consumers surveyed in late September and early October:

• 66 percent said they planned to buy gift cards over the holidays.
• Most shoppers are expecting to spend less per card than last year, cutting back to $28.43 from $36.18
• They will also buy fewer cards, averaging 5.3 cards compared to 5.5 last year.
• Fewer shoppers are also planning to buy gift cards for specific stores and products, though gas cards are becoming increasingly popular as consumers focus on value and necessities.
• Almost 50% of those surveyed admitted to having at least one unused gift card, with an average of 5.9 unused cards per respondent.
• 14% said they have too many cards and will probably never redeem them all
• 24% said they've had a card expire before they could use it

With the number of unused gift cards growing and with the shaky economic climate, we could well see a significant card in gift card redemption in January.

Posted by staff at 10:54 AM

August 16, 2007

Which applications in prepay will be the drivers of future growth

Identifying successful prepay applications is not just down to technology, brand or especially budget—just ask American Express’s head of travellers check cards. Careful consideration of the problems the application is solving will help you avoid failure.

If you’re not solving a problem, you’ve got one
Tony Craddock, CEO, Giftex Prepay, [email protected]
(Excerpted from Global Prepay Intelligence, Volume II Issue 8, available at

Since entering the gift and prepay market three years ago, we have seen some successful programs, especially in simple consumer propositions such as gift cards, but many investments in more complex propositions fail to deliver.

Identifying successful prepay applications is not just down to technology, brand or especially budget—just ask American Express’s head of travellers check cards. Careful consideration of the problems the application is solving will help you avoid failure.

The heated debate about which applications in prepay will be the drivers of future growth in the sector continues. There is a simple way to identify the winners and losers. It’s all to do with the problems they solve.

In the last month in the UK we have seen Barclays and Caxton FX launch prepay cards for travellers and American Express, despite having sold £20bn of them, withdraw their travellers check cards after three years of investment. Consumers of the plastic version of the traditional paper voucher simply did not find that the additional costs of buying the plastic over the paper version – not only an up-front fee but a hefty percentage transaction fee of 2% too – worth paying for. And that is despite a reputed £20m investment in promotions in 2006 to encourage them to do so.

We are all enthused about the potential for prepay. But how do we identify which of the prepay applications and which of the prepay business models are most likely to succeed? This is the $64,000 question.

The problem with technology
As in any sector where technology is changing fast, there is a tendency to find out what the technology can do and develop a product that uses that capability. The product developer goes through a test-learn-revise-test cycle until he comes up with something that consumers will buy. With the travellers’ check card example, technology allows us to issue a travellers’ cheque on a plastic card. It makes sense commercially, providing customers will pay a suitable fee and charges, i.e. additional costs.

So the product developer thinks, ‘let’s launch one and see if it works’. But as with the American Express example, this can be an expensive route to follow. The difficulty is that many product developers do not understand enough about how consumers behave to know what problems their product is solving. Or they start with the technology rather than the customer. Readers of Global Prepay Intelligence, Giftex Prepay’s regular research journal (see www.giftexprepay/intelligence) will recognise this theme: understand the customer’s problem first, then work out how the technology and the other facets of the product will solve it. Technology alone is not enough.

So which problems are we solving?
Gift cards solve problems for consumers and businesses. Dan Horne has described these in previous issues. They include, ‘I don’t know what the receiver wants’, ‘She does not have enough time to seek out the right gift’, ‘She has enough stress in her life already and does not need to risk of getting the wrong gift as well’.

And the receiver has problems too. He knows that around one in three of the gifts he receives are unwanted. He ‘does not want to fabricate an enthusiastic but inauthentic response’. Or ’His inventory of consumer products – the Playstation, fashion accessories, men’s toiletries - is so complete that only he knows what is needed to complement it’. The ‘gift of choice’ – a.k.a. gift card or voucher - solves these problems.

Gift cards and vouchers solve problems for businesses, too. For the human resources manager in a corporation, they include, ‘I want to motivate my sales team’, ‘I want to change the behaviour of my channel partners’ and ‘I have to incentivise my new joiners’. For the company enabling the processing or manufacture of the card or its distribution, problems will include, ‘I need to fill my production capability’, ‘I want to leverage my brand’ and ‘My other routes to market are too expensive’.

Retailers’ problems are also solved by gift cards. ‘Some of my customers visit but don’t buy’, ‘Our returns costs are high’, and ‘I need to maximise the value of each customer’ are some of them.

So gift cards and vouchers solve problems for everyone in the supply chain. Which is why 1,000 retailers in over 25,000 outlets around the world sell over $100bn of gift cards to satisfied consumers each year, growing at 15% p.a.

Cash is not the problem
Let’s now look at non-gift prepay, often quoted by banks as being their way of solving the problem of processing cash. Which consumer problems do prepay applications solve? Visitors to a nightclub in London, The Ministry of Sound, prepay for entry and receive a bar-coded ticket to their mobile phone on the day it is valid. Entry to the club depends on showing a mobile phone ticket or else the partygoer incurs the wrath of the bouncers. The problem this is solving? Consumers want to be around other ‘good guests’. With the paper ticketing process, this cannot be assured. By filtering out bad guests through the selection and payment process using a database and scoring mechanism, and ensuring the e-tickets cannot be passed on (which reveller will want to lend his phone to a friend on a Saturday night?) this innovation solves a consumer problem.

Wireless phones are also becoming popular as carrier of payment value. Fans of the Atlanta Hawks, based near to loyal Giftex Prepay Network members, InComm (Hi, Lori!), have been testing specially adapted Nokia handsets linked to their VISA cards to enter the stadium and buy root beer and burgers. The consumer problem? A combination of security, ’the balance is secure if you lose your card’, cost efficiency, ’you get a bonus for topping up’ and tribalism, ‘only loyal fans will take the trouble to get one’. It is no wonder that Arthur D Little, a research company, predicts that payment using mobiles will rise from $3.2bn in 2003 to $37bn by 2008. This is more than 100% growth in five years.

In Asia, mobiles are used to buy a lot of things. In Japan, hundreds of thousands of transactions, from travel purchases to everyday shopping items such as groceries, take place every day. The cards have an RFID/Contactless/NFC activation and redemption capability and a stored value processing capability. Most Japanese have at least one credit card, but they tend to stay in their owners’ pockets. Unlike the cities of many of the Network’s members, street crime does not exist in Japan, so cash is king. Cash solves the problem of payment for not only daily shopping but payment of utilities through the payment network in convenience stores or banks.

Problem-solving prepay
So how are mobile prepayments making an impact on these deep-seated habits in a progressive market such as Japan? Dan’s article on developing markets in this issue will shed some light on this, as will the piece on our new member, TNX, from Lisa. For customers in a hurry, being able to pay with their keitai – mobile phone - is a lot quicker and easier than paying in cash. Sure, the technology is pretty cute too: using a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip called FeliCa, handsets perform the various functions of cash, keys, ID and credit cards, as well as making calls. But what is assuring their success is that, like ordinary gift cards, these applications solve customer problems—and problems for others in the supply chain too.
For some the problem solved might be, ‘I’m in a hurry’, ‘I don’t trust plastic’ or ‘I don’t want to risk carrying cash’. For others it might be, ‘I don’t want anyone to know that I am making this payment’ or ‘I want to look trendy’.

Prepay cards, such as those used by London’s Oyster system or Hong Kong’s Octopus system, provide consumers with a great deal of convenience, solving the problems of ‘not enough time’, ‘not enough change’ or ‘need the lowest cost ticket’. The Oyster card now accounts for over 75% of all journeys and only 5% of journeys are paid for in cash, partly driven by the significant discounts available to card users. And once the Oyster/Barclaycard/Visa prepay card product called OnePulse gets launched in September, we will see NFC-enabled prepay cards solving the problems of many millions of Londoners every day.

But payments made using many open loop prepay cards attract fees, either to buy, use or top up, otherwise the economics do not stack up. For example, a $100 Amex gift card costs $9 to buy. But the Milo card issued by InComm has recently had its purchase fee removed, to the surprise of some industry operators whose business models depend upon an up-front fee to pay for their issuing costs.

According to Dave Carr at Altair Financial Services, “We will see more and more no-cost prepay travel cards coming to market, such as the Caxton FX travel card”. The Caxton card is free to obtain and free to load, provided it is done online and via a debit card. “Crucially, the company is promising to offer the best rate of exchange in the market” says Carr. Purchases in shops incur no charge, but users pay €2 or £1.50 to make cash withdrawals at ATMs. Users have to load a minimum of £500 on to the card and their account is then credited with equivalent number of euros on that day. The card can be used anywhere in the world and, if used outside the Eurozone, the customer gets the rate of the exchange on the day.

“The price needs to represent reasonable value for money” says Greg Sheppard from First Data. “And this differs between how cards are used in each segment. In the youth segment, prepay cards tend to have lower transaction values so issuers need to charge more; and yet there is less willingness to pay these charges by consumers” he says. Greg goes on, “There is a risk with charging too little for a prepay card. If consumers have not had to incur a meaningful cost, or the product is free, then their usage behaviour will be different to if they had paid for the product.” He concludes that free prepay cards may promote dormancy and find it hard to create brand or even product loyalty, and therefore profitability.

In time other sources of revenue, perhaps revenue from marketing or channel partners, could make the prepay card less reliant on revenue from the consumer. For example, an airline issuing a prepay travel card that rewards consumers with air miles when it is used could be free. With KLM’s gift card issued by Mercurius, Loyalty is built in.

If prepay becomes as cheap for the consumer to use as cash, then retailers could even charge consumers for using cash. After all, it costs retailers more to process a cash transaction than some prepay transactions. ‘1% extra for cash’ or ‘No cash allowed’ could become familiar on signs at the POS.

From pay-now to pay-before
We are not only seeing a change in where the value is carried, from paper (cash) to a mobile phone. We are also seeing a move from pay-now and pay-later to pay-before. From debit and credit to prepay. Instead of taking up some of the several hundred credit cards on offer, Japanese consumers are adopting prepay by topping up their mobile phones with spending money in advance using cash. They are not flocking to prepay because it is prepay. They are using prepay because it solves their problems at an acceptable cost.

Having spent fortunes on branding and enjoying very profitable businesses, credit card firms do not want to see prepay gaining ground at their expense. Banks are worried. Or they should be. Historically, banks have controlled both the hardware (chequebooks and debit/credit cards) and distribution (banks, ATMs, web sites). Banks could lose customers and reduce the size and profitability of their credit card operations.

Winners and losers
Credit and debit cards do not solve a range of new consumer problems as effectively as some prepay cards. To identify the prepay winners, look out for those that solve consumer problems. It might be related to gift-giving. Shopping. Gambling. Travel. Or receiving benefits. Prepay ‘solutions’ that do not solve consumer problems will have a problem: consumers will not use them.

Posted by staff at 12:30 PM

June 23, 2007

Comments on Pay By Touch loyalty gif card kiosk

Digital Money Forum comments on the reward and gift card kiosk by Pay By Touch. The Internet-enabled kiosk lets shoppers create customized store-branded and third-party gift cards with personalized “to” and “from” names and single or multiple design full-color graphics. Gift cards can be purchased and dispensed directly from the self-serve kiosk.

Digital Money Forum: I could imagine using this

I could imagine using this
[Dave Birch] There's been a rash of announcements of new payment schemes recently, many of them centred on mobiles. I find myself reading some of these announcements and thinking "well, that sounds neat" but then saying to myself "I couldn't see me using it". There's a disconnect. But some of them I could see myself using. For example, Pay By Touch have developed a Reward and Gift Card Kiosk. The Internet-enabled kiosk lets shoppers create customized store-branded and third-party gift cards with personalized “to” and “from” names and single or multiple design full-color graphics. Gift cards can be purchased and dispensed directly from the self-serve kiosk, eliminating the current requirement of purchasing gift cards at the check-out lane or customer service counter. The kiosks store an unlimited number of graphics, so multiple merchants or brands can be supported on a single kiosk. Here’s how it works:

1. Using a touch-screen, the shopper chooses from multiple designs to match the gift-giving occasion, and chooses the denomination he or she prefers.
2. The shopper then types in both the recipient's and the gift giver’s name (likely her own) into the "to" and “from” fields.
3. Using a credit card, the shopper purchases the gift card directly through the kiosk. The shopper presses “print” and a personalized, activated gift card is printed in seconds, along with a receipt.

Technorati Tags: loyalty, p2p, payments

Now that is a kiosk I could imagine using. The kids want to play World of Warcraft or whatever, so I get them a card with a WoW character on and money loaded on to it to keep them going for a while. Assuming that these are Visa or MasterCard gift cards (ie, "open" gift cards), then I'm in.

Posted by staff at 10:03 AM

December 08, 2006

Gift Card Fraud

Evan Schuman of Ziff Davis goes thru the urban myths regarding gift cards and how we are told they can be abused, and how they really are.

Opinion: As gift cards soar in popularity—some $25 billion in gift cards are expected to be sold this holiday season alone—the attempts to use them fraudulently have also soared.

1 comment posted
Add your opinion

As gift cards have soared in popularity in recent years—some $25 billion in gift cards are expected to be sold this holiday season alone—the attempts to use them fraudulently have also soared. But some of the theft techniques are woefully out of date.

Does this mean that gift cards are secure financial tools for retailers and consumers? Not necessarily, but today's gift cards are certainly no less secure than traditional credit cards, with most retailers and issuers willing to be flexible with consumers who have been burned. The most popular gift card fraud rumor hitting Web discussion forums and many newspapers is that there are bands of thieves who copy down gift card numbers out in the open and then wait for a hapless consumer to buy—and thereby activate—the card. The thief then uses the card anywhere he doesn't have to physically present the card, such as online.

PointerClick here to read why Evan Schuman says data thieves are one big MasterCard commercial.

It may be an interesting story, said gift card fraud expert Paul Cogswell, but it won't work and it likely never did.

"It flat out won't work for you," said Cogswell, vice president of loss prevention for CommData, which issues about half the gift cards used in the United States. "This is a recycling of an urban myth. It's rare if ever that you've had a gift card retailer that wouldn't have anticipated this scam."

Rest of Story -- Gift Card Fraud Rumors and Reality

Posted by staff at 08:18 AM

November 27, 2006

Coinstar Signs Up With WH Smith on Gift Card Program

Gift Cards: Coinstar signs up W.H. Smith for gift card program, this on a day that also saw a lot of industry updates on Coinstar including Trading Markets and Seeking Alpha.

Coinstar is First to Sign Major Retailer to Gift Card Mall Program in the United Kingdom

Popular British Retailer WHSmith will carry Gift Card Mall

BELLEVUE, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Coinstar, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSTR) today announced that its subsidiary Coinstar Limited has signed major U.K. retailer WHSmith to its Gift Card Mall program. This well-known retailer is the first major retailer in the United Kingdom to deliver a Gift Card Mall program, initially made popular in the United States.

"By teaming with WHSmith we have access to one of the biggest retail names in Britain," said Steve Verleye, senior vice president and general manager of Coinstar’s E-pay services. “The U.K. Gift Card Mall program represents an important new development in Coinstar’s U.K. product offering and allows us to share our gift card expertise with WHSmith."

The Gift Card Mall consists of a display rack of popular retailers including department stores, clothing, and electronics, as well as experience cards such as holidays, sporting events, and movie going. The program gives the host retailer an innovative, turnkey product to drive incremental traffic, sales and profits into the store. In addition, it also creates a new way for consumers to buy gifts in the form of gift cards for their friends and family.

The program will launch this month in the U.K. with a nationwide roll-out in more than 540 WHSmith’s stores. Additional U.K. retailers are expected to be added to the program over the coming months.

“As leaders in the gift card market it is a logical move for us to sign with Coinstar’s Gift Card Mall service. Coinstar’s U.S. experience will put WHSmith into an even stronger position to take advantage of this rapidly growing market,” said Ian Sanders, Head of Commercial Development at WHSmith.

The U.K. gift card market is expected to grow from £3 million in 2005 to approximately £2.1 billion by 2007 (source: Giftex Research 2005).

About WHSmith

WHSmith is made up of 543 high street stores and 129 airport and station stores. The high street business sells a wide range of newspapers, magazines, stationery, books and entertainment products, while WHSmith Travel sells a tailored range of newspapers, magazines, books and confectionery products for people on the move. In addition, WHSmith Direct – - serves customers on the internet 24 hours a day.

About Coinstar, Inc.

Coinstar, Inc. (Nasdaq:CSTR) is a multi-national company offering a range of 4th Wall™ solutions for the retailers’ front of store consisting of self-service coin counting, electronic payment solutions, money transfer, entertainment services and self-service DVD rental. The company’s products and services can be found at more than 60,000 retail locations including supermarkets, financial institutions, drug stores, mass merchants, convenience stores, and restaurants. For more information, visit

Coinstar is First to Sign Major Retailer to Gift Card Mall Program in the United Kingdom

Posted by staff at 09:02 PM

$8B in Unused Gift Cards

Report posted by Tower Group that over $8 Billion in unredeemed gift cards this year. That's 50% of gift cards issued. Kioskcom Blog � $8 Billion in Unused Gift Cards

Posted by staff at 08:44 PM

January 11, 2005

Gift Card Fraud

Gift Card Fraud An Issue For Retailers To Address

The Detroit Free Press
Dec 23 2004 : While gift cards are a favorite gift choice of US consumers in the 2004 holiday shopping season, fraud is a growing concern with the rise of online gift card trading exchanges. In a case cited by Daniel Butler, a VP at the NRF, one US retailer tested 42 gift cards that were for sale at an online exchange, and found 22 to have a fraud connection. If gift cards are stolen or bought with stolen credit cards, retailers discover the link when the card is used in-store, but those accepting gift cards online as part of a multi-channel strategy, need real-time card validation to minimize fraud.

Just recently, a former Home Depot marketing manager admitted to selling, or intending to sell 2,375 stolen company gift cards on eBay, at a total of USD 269,350 between May 2002 and March 2004, after ordering the cards from Home Depot headquarters. Despite the potential for fraud, gift cards are positive for US retailers and accounted for almost 10 per cent of total retail sales at year-end 2003. Multiple gift card distribution channels such as kiosks, the Internet, malls and third party vendors made their first appearance in 2004 and will be important in future years.

Going forward, US gift card issuers are expected to investigate the UK and general European gift certificate market for future expansion now that most US retailers have gift card programs. Hong Kong based clothing retailer Esprit by contrast extended its gift card program, which originated in Europe, to North America, in September 2004. In the UK, where 26 of the top 35 retailers already issue paper gift vouchers in-store, according to First Annapolis, gift card solutions providers may find the market a hard sell until more UK retailers establish successful gift card programs.

Posted by Craig at 02:31 PM

November 23, 2004

Gift Card Metrics Rising

74% of shoppers expected to buy gift cards

Greg Wiles
Bloomberg News
Nov. 18, 2004 01:57 PM

U.S. gift-card sales will rise this holiday season with 74 percent of shoppers buying at least one, a survey found, as retailers appeal to higher-income customers with special packaging and redemption values of as much as $1,000.

Merchants such as May Department Stores Co. and Barnes & Noble Inc. are expanding their gift-card offerings, sales of which are expected to increase by $100 million to $17.3 billion, Washington-based National Retail Federation said. Last year, 70 percent of shoppers bought a gift card in November and December.

Gift cards are the top holiday gift among shoppers this year, according to a Deloitte & Touche USA survey of 16,000 consumers. Last year, gift cards and certificates were the No. 3 choice, behind apparel and CDs and DVDs, the survey said. Barnes & Noble is offering a $1,000 gift card in a fabric-lined box with a pair of bookends and a portrait of William Shakespeare. advertisement

"People have accepted gift cards as truly being a gift," Deloitte & Touche Vice Chairman Tara Weiner said in an interview. "It's not like giving cold cash where you gave it no thought."

Gift cards are expected to play a significant role during November and December, when total retail sales are forecast to rise by 4.5 percent, according to National Retail Federation projections.

Shoppers will spend $80.45 on gift cards, or about 11.5 percent of their average gift budget of $702 this year, the group said. Total retail spending is forecast to reach $219.9 billion.

Shares of May fell $1.04 to $29.71 at 1:46 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. New York-based Barnes & Noble rose 74 cents to $26.04.

'Redefining the Season'

May, the St. Louis-based operator of the Lord & Taylor and Marshall Field's chains, has added cards with more contemporary designs printed on them.

"We would be very disappointed if our gift-card sales don't grow between 10 to 20 percent," said May Chief Financial Officer Thomas Fingleton on a conference call last week.

Retailers also are using gift cards as part of discounts and as a way to get consumers to return to their stores. At Best Buy Co., the largest U.S. electronics retailer, shoppers buying a $1,000, 30-inch Samsung high-definition television receive a $100 gift card to use later.

No. 2 U.S. electronics chain Circuit City Stores Inc. is giving a $25 gift card for people signing up for a new credit card.

The growth in gift cards also means that more sales are now in January. Retailers typically don't book the sale as revenue until the gift recipient uses the card to make a purchase.

ValueLink, a First Data Corp. unit that began issuing gift cards for retailers in 1995, found 58 percent of 1,000 people it surveyed redeemed the card within the first month they had it. Fifty-five percent said they made purchases for more than the value of the card when they were redeeming it.

"It is redefining the season," said Wendy Liebmann, president of New York-based consulting firm, WSL Strategic Retail.

74% of shoppers expected to buy gift cards

Posted by Craig at 05:15 PM

November 08, 2004

Christmas, Gift Cards and Retailers

Gift cards: Pieces of plastic spread joy, but not all are merry

Monday, November 08, 2004

By Teresa F. Lindeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With more than half of the gift-receiving public hoping for a gift card this holiday season, the little plastic presents are no longer seem like a lame solution for a difficult-to-please cousin. Now retailers are concentrating on the pizzazz factor.

Department store J.C. Penney this year has introduced plush cardholders ($1.99 with gift card of $10 or more) so givers can tuck their offerings inside a stuffed bear or perhaps a Santa., an online purveyor of cards since 1997, will launch a service in the next few weeks to help customers get more bang from their expenditure of bucks. Perhaps that restaurant gift card would look cute in an empty Chinese takeout box with ribbons?

"People love the whole aspect of opening a present," said Kathy Gersch, executive vice president of marketing and merchandising.

Gift cards -- once merely the back-office staff's high-tech replacement for the clunky paper gift certificate -- have been discovered by the marketing team.

The first big assignment was an image fix from the lazy person's solution to a coveted item. That seems to have been accomplished. The National Retail Federation's latest research indicates that more than 50 percent of the receiving public would like to get a gift card this year, up almost 10 percent from two years ago.

While it may be boring to open a flat envelope, both retailers and consumers have warmed to the advantages of cards. Stores find recipients usually spend more then they have been given. For shoppers, the money on the card is a pot of gold that makes it easier to buy something nicer than usual.

Gift cards also bring many people back into stores during the slow months of January and February. Mall owner Simon Property Group, which rolled out its own gift card nationally in 2003, saw 60 percent of the balances spent within 60 days last year.

Simon, which has three Allegheny County malls, expects to sell $400 million worth of gift cards this year, compared with $340 million last year. Nationally, the holiday gift card industry could reach $22 billion this year, a small, but significant portion of the $220 billion that the retail federation is projecting for holiday sales.

The original gift cards looked like something the accountants might have come up with -- one color, maybe a logo.

But in a recent customer survey by Stored Value Systems, a gift card supplier, respondents said the biggest drawback to cards was that they were impersonal. Few people had received them in anything more personal than a gift card. More than half of those surveyed said the design on the card was important and should relate to the occasion.

Penney's this year has rolled out four new holiday card images and added a Spanish language card. Several national retailers created two-part gift cards for the back-to-school season, allowing students at college to buy while their parents back home reloaded the account.

Even plastic can be improved upon. Target has sold a mood gift card that changed color when held. Hardware retailer Lowe's managed a card made of wood ("Don't ask us how we did it," said Bob Skiba, general manager of gift card supplier Stored Value Systems, which worked on the project.)

"It's not just what shade of black do you want anymore," said Skiba, who was on a team that brought cards in 1997 to The Gap clothing chain.'s top seller is a one-size-fits-all version that can be split among 200 or more participating merchants. The online shop also promotes itself as a one-stop place to pick up cards from a number of companies ranging from Borders Books and Music to Merry Maids to Zales. Millions of cards are stockpiled in a warehouse in Omaha, Neb., ready for shipment.

Gift card kiosks also are showing up, first at Safeway grocery stores and more recently at some Giant Eagle locations in the form of stands holding a range of restaurant and retailer cards.

Marketers and accountants still have issues to work through. Financial rules demand that money received for gift cards not be counted as revenue until that money is actually spent.

American Eagle Outfitters listed $3.3 million in unredeemed gift cards at the close of fiscal year 1997. At the end of the most recent fiscal year on Jan. 31, 2004, the Marshall teen clothier reported more than $25 million in unused card value sitting on the books.

"It's an accounting nightmare," said Gersch, at

Bookkeeping concerns led to expiration dates and fee systems aimed at limiting the length of time people could forget their cards stashed in the back of the sock drawer. Simon, for example, begins charging a $2.50 monthly fee in the seventh month, eventually clearing out the account.

Upset consumers and a wave of state laws seeking to restrict such requirements have focused attention on the issue and persuaded a number of retailers to change their policies. Penney dropped its service fees a year ago. In July, eliminated the 13-month expiration date on its all-in-one product.

Gersch isn't too concerned about the change. The cards have been around long enough that accountants can better predict how many people will hang on to them.

The National Retail Federation recommends consumers check into fees and restrictions before buying a gift card, since they vary between issuers.

As for the problem of putting off sales into the months after Christmas -- and perhaps exchanging full-price sales for post-holiday discounted merchandise -- there seems to be little sympathy. Skiba said stretching the shopping season should be an opportunity for stores to convert people into regular customers.


Posted by Craig at 04:14 PM

October 21, 2004

Gift Card Trends

Gift givers now prefer gift cards to cash, study finds Original Story from Wise Marketer

More than half of American consumers prefer electronic gift or spending cards when giving gifts rather than giving cash or paper gift certificates, according to the fourth annual Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by spending card solutions firm ValueLink.

Of those consumers surveyed, 52% said they would prefer to give a gift card, while 38% prefer to give cash and 11% prefer to give gift certificates (11%). According to ValueLink, the survey of 1,006 US adults reveals a steady growth in gift card usage across several measurable categories, and American consumers are purchasing more gift cards at higher values than at any time since the annual survey began tracking the figures in 2001. This article is copyright 2004

Some 64% said they purchased and/or received a gift card in the previous 12 months, compared to only 36% in the original 2001 survey. Consumers had purchased an average of just under seven gift cards in the previous 12 months, with an average value of US$59 per card (up from 4.1 cards at US$44 per card in 2001).

Most spend more
Of those who had received a gift card in the previous 12 months, 27% said they spent the initial value of their card within one week of receiving it, and another 31% spent the value within one month. More than half (55%) of those surveyed said they spent more than the value of the card when they used it.

"Tracking these statistics over a four year period has provided us with a definitive picture of the American consumer's acceptance, purchase and use of electronic gift cards," explained Kevin Harte, senior vice president and general manager for ValueLink.

Measurement 2004 2003 2002 2001
Consumer awareness of gift cards 94% 92% 79% 76%
Purchased or received a gift card 64% 59% 37% 36%
Avg. no. of gift cards purchased 6.9 5.6 4.6 4.1
Avg. value of gift cards purchased US$59 US$41 US$50 US$44
Avg. gift card spending in previous year US$247 US$197 n/a n/a
Spend more than initial value of gift card 55% 56% 61% 58%
Overall satisfaction with gift cards (10 = highest) 9 9 9 7

Four year tracking of year-round gift card purchases & use
Source: ValueLink Consumer Insights Survey 2004

As demonstrated by a preference for gift cards rather than cash or paper certificates, electronic gift cards have evolved to become a desired product by purchasers and receivers alike, according to ValueLink.

Gift options
Looking at the type of gifts for which gift cards are used, 66% of gift card purchasers said that they give them as a primary gift, while 28% said they them with another gift.

"The Christmas holiday is a crucial time of the year for gift cards in the retail world, as 56% of respondents cited the occasion for a gift card purchase," said Karen Larsen, ValueLink's vice president of product marketing and evolution. "An even stronger figure, and one that points toward the year-round appeal of gift cards, is that 77% had purchased a gift card to give as a birthday gift."

The benefits
Survey respondents also highlighted the benefits of purchasing and receiving gift cards:

  • 52% said gift cards allow receivers to get what they want;
  • 36% said gift cards are convenient to purchase;
  • 17% said they don't have to think about the specific gift they are giving;
  • 45% said receiving a gifts card benefits their own shopping experience because they can get the gift they want and/or wait for a sale to "get more gift";
  • 26% said gift cards are convenient and easy to use.

Key findings
Other key research findings included:

  • 83% purchased gift cards in person at a store location. Another 9% made gift card purchases using the internet via merchant web sites;
  • Of those who have purchased gift cards in the past, 50% said they are "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to purchase a gift card via a retailer or restaurant web site in the coming year;
  • 26% said they had purchased gift cards at a store that offers gift cards from multiple retailers or merchants;
  • Compared to the average US$247 spent on gift cards in the previous year, consumers between the ages of 45 and 54 spent an average of US$281 on gift cards during the year. Those aged 65 or older spent an average of US$200 on gift cards during the year;
  • 80% of all purchased cards had a US$20 - US$50 value;
  • Most consumers carry an average of 4.2 plastic cards (gift, credit, reward, and so on) in their wallet or purse at all times. However, 14% carry 6-9 plastic cards at all times, and 10% carry 10 or more cards at all times.

Data for ValueLink's Consumer Insights Survey 2004 was collected in August 2004 by TNS Financial Services Group, using its Express Telephone Omnibus (a weekly random survey of adult US consumers).

More Info:

Source: ValueLink

Posted by Craig at 04:08 PM