Facebook Introduces Retail Gift Cards

Here I bestow a gift upon Editor-in-Chief Jeff O'Heir

In another baby-step into the retail market, Facebook is now producing a gift card that can store multiple balances from different retailers. So far the businesses involved are just Target, Sephora, Jamba Juice, and Olive Garden.

The new Facebook Card feature is rolling out in the next couple of days, and will be part of Facebook’s Gifts program that launched last year. We’ll see if gets a longer and more permanent rollout than the on-again off-again Collections program.

I personally haven’t even used Facebook Gifts yet or noticed anyone else in my network using the service. Gifts allows a user to select a product and send it to a Facebook friend. The friend is notified of the gift, and then has to put his or her address in to Facebook. The selection of gifts is limited to Facebook’s chosen roster, which is somewhat similar to, and possibly less than, what you might see in your credit card rewards program. The Facebook Card will probably work the same way, where a user can be sent a physical card, and friends can virtually choose your retailer and add to your card’s balance.

I don’t expect this to take off any time soon, and neither does Facebook. According to Reuters, Facebook Finance Chief David Ebersman said “While Facebook believes online commerce has “long-term potential,” the current revenue from such efforts is very small and will remain so throughout the year.”

Adweek has some interesting speculation about the implications Card has for advertising, and whether this will lead to a mobile wallet. I’ll wait to see if people actually start using it at all.

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