Gift card utilization and spending are expected to increase in 2019, consistent with the overall positive outlook for the incentives and rewards market, and gift cards continue to be a popular option within reward and recognition programs, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) 2019 Trends Study. Along with this growth has come a quest for increasingly sophisticated solutions and an influx of private equity and strategic acquisitions.
The most recent example is the July acquisition of Meridian Loyalty, a full-service incentives business that creates loyalty and engagement programs for large corporations, by InComm, a leading payments technology company. The move expands InComm’s capabilities from the specialized delivery of stored-value rewards to a comprehensive suite of end-to-end services for brand-focused incentive, loyalty and engagement programs, including travel and merchandise redemptions. This comes on the heels of InComm’s February 2019 acquisition of Hallmark Connections, the business-to-business incentives subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc. that provides integrated, personalized employee-recognition incentive programs built around physical and digital gift cards.
National Gift Card (NGC), which provides secure, innovative gift card technology solutions, acquired Benefit Mobile, a digital payments and fundraising company In February 2019. (This followed LaSalle Capital’s July 2018 acquisition of NGC.) The Benefit Mobile acquisition expands NGC’s capacity to provide new, technology-rich features and capabilities to support secure, creative, customizable gift card and proprietary currency solutions. Benefit Mobile will continue to operate as a fundraising platform enabling consumers to fund their chosen causes through everyday transactions.
Also in February, Tango Card, a leading digital rewards and incentives provider, acquired GiftCertificates.com., a pioneer in the gift card industry, adding experienced incentive team members and over 1,000 customers along with enhanced incentive fulfillment capabilities for its enterprise customer base. (Tango Card received an initial investment from FTV Capital in May, 2018 with followup investment in February, 2019.)
All this should be good news for gift card program users, hopefully bringing ever-better services and functionality.
Stay tuned for a follow-up article: “Five Tips on Getting the Most from Your Gift Card Program.”