Talking tech since 2003

While the technology space is moving toward mobile payments, Facebook is still trying to expand its “Facebook Card.”  And by the way, who is actually using this card?

The Facebook Card, if you don’t know (and you probably don’t), was launched two months ago as a way for people to give their friends gift cards to places like Target and Olive Garden via Facebook.  Here’s how it works: you first select the gift you want to give a friend– say $25 to spend at Target. After paying for the card online, your friend is immediately notified of your gift, and will receive their Facebook Card in the mail a few days later. They can then redeem the gift card at the retailer you specified.  Or you can buy a Facebook Card at a few participating stores.

If you think this seems a little “behind the times,” you’re not alone.  Just look at the mobile payments industry.

Worldwide mobile payment transactions likely surpassed $171.5 billion in 2012, up 62% from $106 million in 2011, according to a Gartner estimate. Companies like Square, Google Wallet, LevelUp, PayPal and Venmo are just some of the companies fighting for dominance in this sector.  Starbucks alone is seeing big results via mobile.  The beverage giant, which became the first national retailer to launch its own mobile payment technology program, generates more than three million United States mobile payment transactions per week.  That’s a lot of coffee.

As for gift cards, well their becoming virtual too.  Gyft, for example, is a mobile app that allows you to buy, save and redeem gift cards using your mobile phone. The company is taking the existing $100 billion market for physical gift cards and moving it to the phone.

But while the rest of the mobile payments industry is rapidly expanding, Facebook is adding its physical card to even more stores.  In fact, this week it’s popping up at Rite Aid.  Yes!  Check out this deal!

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 2.03.26 PM

So why is Facebook, one of the leading visionaries of the digital age, pushing pieces of plastic at Rite Aid?

Well, they are attempting to increase Facebook Gift sales, which was one of the lower points of Facebook’s earnings two months ago.  I have a feeling, the Facebook Card is going to be extinct pretty fast. But we’ll have to see how Gift sales look at its next earnings report on April 29.  If they want to increase Facebook Gift sales, they better think up a more virtual way, because right now, they look a little “Square.”

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