Fintech specialist Miconex has launched its Love Local digital gift card brand in the UK, working 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, including national and independent retailers, hospitality, leisure and services, 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.
Colin Munro (pictured), Managing Director of Miconex, said: “The shop local sentiment is evident in our work with programmes in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the US. 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 GCVA State of the Nation report suggests that the pandemic has accelerated the trend for digital gift cards, with 38.4% of respondents converting to digital gift cards. Whilst in-store redemption remains the most popular way to spend gift cards (54.8%), this has decreased considerably vs. 2019 (69.6%) indicating a trend towards online and mobile redemption. 21.6% of respondents redeemed their gift card via mobile in 2020, up from 11.4% in 2019.
Miconex also says there is clear move towards local shopping, with a reported 2000% year on year increase in online searches for ‘support local businesses’ in 2020. The GCVA found that almost a quarter of consumers (24.5%) purchasing 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%) planning to continue to use gift cards to support local businesses.
A new Scotland Loves Local Gift Card, powered by Miconex and backed by the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Towns Partnerships, was announced in June. Munro said the introduction of digital gift cards was prompted by demand from towns and cities, and consumer trends:
“Working alongside our partners EML, MasterCard and Apple, we have created a cutting edge digital gift card product for towns and cities, breaking down the barriers that have previously existed and enabling places to have their own digital gift card for the first time. We listened to what our clients told us they wanted from their gift card programmes, whilst staying attuned to consumer trends.
“An estimated 1 in 3 adults are said to choose gifts based on how soon they can get them. For consumers, digital gift cards are instant, meaning they can send a last minute gift conveniently, whilst also supporting local businesses. The digital gift goes straight to the recipient. They receive a text or email, click on the link to download the Love Local app, then receive a code to add the balance to their digital wallet, making their purchase using their phone, or even their Apple watch. Ease of use for consumers is paramount, as is the trend towards mobile payments which is particularly pronounced in the UK.”