Facebook Expands Gifting Program with New Card (Feb. 4, 2013)
Feb. 4, 2013
Facebook is expanding its brick-and-mortar gifting program with the launch of its own branded gift card. The Facebook Card began rolling out last week, the social network said in a blog post, with availability “gradually” expanding to more U.S. users. The preloaded card can be purchased within the Gift Cards & Digital merchandise category of Facebook Gifts, and is then mailed to the recipient, who can use it at brick-and-mortar locations of four initial merchant partners—Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora and Target. The card runs on the Discover Network and is restricted to participating merchants. Once a user has a physical card, any future gift amounts are loaded onto that card, which has a separate balance for each of the four retailers. Cardholders can monitor their balances from within their Facebook accounts, and will be notified when there is any change in balance amount.
The timing of the card’s release struck many observers as odd, especially since it was on the heels of Facebook’s quarterly earnings call, during which the social media company tempered expectations for its Gifts program last week. And the new card’s limited functionality of only four brick-and-mortar merchants (at least for now) would seem to put it at a disadvantage against a crowded field of competitors offering more flexible gift cards—many of whom use Facebook itself as a platform for delivering those products. Facebook’s previous track record in making forays into the physical world is mixed; the company’s Facebook Credits program—which offered cards preloaded with virtual currency for social games and apps—was shuttered last summer.