A closed-loop wallet app debuts to open up gift card spending

Register now

Gift card marketplace provider Raise is launching a mobile wallet for gift cards to turn them into somewhat of an alternative currency.

Chicago-based Raise has a network of more than 300 retails partners and 3,000 brands on its marketplace, where consumers can purchase discounted gift cards to redeem online or in-store.

But Raise is a mobile wallet for all gift cards, not just those purchased in the Raise marketplace, said Trevor Filter, head of product and design at Raise.

"We've spent many years refining the digital redemption experience for using cards in store and restaurants, and our app makes it easy to spend almost all retailer gift cards directly from mobile devices," Filter said.

The Raise mobile wallet app for iOS and Android mobile devices includes a shopping cart featuring a "three-tap" checkout with passcode information, while supporting credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay Android Pay or Samsung Pay as payment options.

Raise currently only supports the secure storage of closed-loop gift cards, not network-branded gift cards or other credit or debit payment cards. Raise says it has a consumer customer base of two million currently using the platform to save money when purchasing gift cards and to more readily use them at the merchant locations.

Raise isn't the only company trying to streamline digital gift card purchasing and redemption for merchants and consumers. First Data and Fleetcor, a provider of fuel cards and workforce payment products, revealed earlier this year that they would combine their gift card operations.

It was a move that expanded digital gift card services to corporate customers, enabling the sale of gift cards on websites and setting up technologies for easier selling and reloading of the cards.

In that regard, Raise has an interesting concept in mind that could aid its own marketplace, but likely won't achieve any type of critical mass because of the various wallet options available, said Thad Peterson, senior analyst with Boston-based Aite Group.

But it could be Raise isn't looking to present itself as a competitor for major wallets. Instead, it has created a way to "add perceived value to Raise's efforts to sell more gift cards," Peterson said.

It's also a good idea if the Raise wallet integrates gift cards and promo codes with the other "Pay" wallets, but that process "doesn't need a wallet to make it happen," Peterson said.

And Raise's three-click payment process "sounds like a little more friction than the competition," he added. "Apple Pay is one click, Android Pay is two."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.