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RGCA Expands Membership, Preps for Next-Gen Gift Cards

The Retail Gift Card Association, which recently opened up its membership to companies that support the closed-loop gift card industry (not just retailers), kicked off its inaugural RGCA Forum in Kansas City, Mo., this week.

The sold-out event is tackling myriad subjects from gift card fraud to keeping consumers engaged with the No. 1 preferred holiday gift.

“Really it’s the first event uniquely focused on the closed-loop gift card industry,” says RGCA Chair Colleen Dorwart, who is also Cabela’s senior manager of gift card services. “We’re filling a void in the payments and retail sectors.”

During a session on Oct. 3, First Data Senior Vice President and Head of Gift Solutions Dom Morea gave attendees a glimpse of First Data’s 2017 Consumer Insights Study, which found that the demand for branded currency is “very strong and growing.” In the past year, digital gift cards have continued to gain popularity and people continue to spend more than the value of a gift card when they make purchases, he noted. The full results from the study will be made available in mid-late October.

“What role are gift cards doing to play as shopping and ways to pay evolve? That’s what excites me,” says Erin Wood, SUBWAY’s director of gift and payments, and RGCA vice chair. “The RGCA is in a great position to lead the discussion about how gift and stored value can be integrated into commerce and making sure we are where and when and how our customers want us to be.”

In addition to meeting customer expectations, Wood says it’s critical for retailers to ensure their C-suite is looking at their gift card programs as a multifaceted branded currency. “It’s a gift, it’s a payment type, it’s a marketing tool,” she adds. “Gift cards can help grow sales and deeply engage customers.

“It’s not about trading buying gift cards online instead of in the restaurant, it’s about how do we drive additional commerce in mobile apps, or how can you leverage a gift card to promote a new product.”

Dorwart adds that while the RGCA is an industry association, it wants to be a brand consumers recognize and trust. “We want to be the Better Business Bureau of gift cards,” she says, noting that some members include the RGCA logo on the back of their cards.

“Our goals are to collaboratively promote, protect and enhance customer confidence in gift cards and to make sure that confidence remains high,” Dorwart says.

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