Wildcard Networks, a startup with the same name as a major issuer processor acquired by eFunds in 2005 (acquired by FIS in 2007), has just released an exciting iPhone app that may revolutionize the Gift Card business. The user tracks their gift cards on the app, including the balance, transaction history, associated barcode/PIN.
The app can be used at the POS, without the need for the physical card.
Additionally, the user can buy new cards and top-up existing cards from anywhere, using the app.
The result is a smart and user-friendly gift card wallet, with potential for a social component.
The iPhone has played a very critical part in the progression of consumer behavior, particularly around payments and mobile banking. The holy grail, sought by the likes of Paypal, Square, and traditional banks is the use of the mobile phone as the direct interaction point with banking/payment services. The mobile phone is the only device that consumers carry all the time, and is likely the only device capable of replacing the traditional wallet.
Some firms are already attempting to make mobile payment and mobile banking a reality today, albeit for P2P or restricted remittance payments and basic banking services (including demand deposits via USAA). Consumer adoption of these tools will take time, due to security concerns and the habit adjustment required.
The Wildcard tool, and similar tools like it, covering a much less concerning ecosystem (prepaid gift cards) will likely find a real following with consumers, and will hopefully help bridge the gap to larger mobile services in the future.
It will be interesting to see if Wildcard intends to attack the larger payment space in the future...