Miconex launches digital gifting product for towns and cities

Fintech Miconex, in partnership with EML Payments, has launched a digital gifting product for towns and cities, under its new global Love Local brand. The digital gift card will work through the MasterCard network and digital wallet services such as Apple Pay.

Miconex operates over 100 Town and City Gift Card programmes around the UK and Ireland, and Downtown Gift Card systems across North America, which unify a wide range of businesses behind a local gift card to create a secure, flexible gift and reward product for consumers and employers. A Love Local app developed by the payments provider to accompany the new digital gift card will enable recipients to add the digital gift card balance to their Apple Wallet, or other digital wallet, view participating businesses, see their balance and spend online or in-store.

The Love Local brand will become an umbrella brand for Miconex’s Town and City Gift Card programmes in the UK and Ireland, with digital gift cards facilitated through the Love Local app.

“The shop local sentiment is evident in our work with programmes in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the US,” said Miconex managing director, Colin Munro. “Developing the Love Local brand allows us to convert that love local sentiment into spend, in a brand that will be as recognised and understood in Cambridge UK as Cambridge Canada. Theoretically, you could have your Downtown Gift Cards in your Love Local app alongside your Town and City Gift Cards. The Love Local brand also provides us with flexibility as we continue to develop new products for different use cases, and new tools for businesses and places to interact directly with an engaged consumer audience. The potential for Love Local is huge.”

The 2021 Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA) State of the Nation report suggests that the pandemic has accelerated the trend for digital gift cards, with 38.4 per cent of respondents converting to them. Whilst in-store redemption remains the most popular way to spend gift cards (54.8 per cent), this has decreased considerably vs. 2019 (69.6 per cent) indicating a trend towards online and mobile redemption. 21.6 per cent of respondents redeemed their gift card via mobile in 2020, up from 11.4 per cent in 2019.

There is also a clear move towards local shopping, with a reported 2000 per cent year-on-year increase in online searches for ‘support local businesses’ in 2020. The GCVA found that almost a quarter of consumers (24.5 per cent) buying a gift card for someone else in June 2021 did so to support local businesses and/or their local high street, with a similar percentage (24.9 per cent) planning to continue to use gift cards to support local businesses.

Munro said that Miconex’s digital gifting product will include a new pricing structure to make it accessible for towns and cities to adopt.

“Miconex’s new pricing structure will allow local authorities and business improvement districts to phase their set up costs for their local gift card programme across three years, paid annually or monthly,” he said. “The gift card market in the UK is worth an estimated £7bn, £4.65bn from consumer sales and £2.34bn from rewards and incentives, and Christmas is one of the busiest times for gift card sales. Our mission is to help as many towns and cities as possible to convert the interest in gift cards, in digital, and in supporting local into spend, creating an unbeatable consumer proposition for their area.”