US-based online and mobile gifting company eGifter has announced its expansion into the European market.
Notably, the move coincides with a similar announcement last week by UK-based Pockio and sees both companies offering their services in the UK, France and Germany. Both companies have also aired plans to enter other markets in the very near future.
EGifter‘s co-founder and CEO, Tyler Roye, told CoinDesk:
“We are looking at adding the rest of Western Europe, as well as markets where English is the primary language, in early 2015, if not sooner. We are also entering some markets as a platform provider, helping incumbent players deploy our best-of-breed mobile and social e-gift card technology to power their own consumer distribution channels.”
The company allows gift cards to be purchased with cryptocurrency or standard payment methods, which can then be redeemed on the appropriate retailer’s website. Effectively, as well as providing gifting services, the service lets bitcoin holders shop with retailers that do not yet accept digital currencies.
While Pockio offers customers the chance to pay for gift cards in any of 15 cryptocurrencies, eGifter currently accepts bitcoin, litecoin and dogecoin in the US, and just bitcoin internationally. The firm also accepts PayPal and credit cards, and plans to add additional payment options in Q1 2015 for both US and international markets.
The initial phase of expansion sees Amazon.fr, Amazon.de and Amazon.co.uk as the company’s sole EU offerings.
“Working with Amazon was a natural fit, given the strong demand for their gift card around the world … As for new brands, we are in talks with many retailers and don’t disclose them until they are live. We are committed to adding brands as quickly as possible [in the EU] as we have demonstrated in the US market.”
The company finds itself in a position of playing catch-up, however. Pockio currently offers 177 retailers for shoppers in the UK, including Ryanair, Marks & Spencer and Spotify, with fewer options for its French and German users.
Roye indicated his company’s advantages will still appeal to consumers, however, saying:
“First, in the US we offer both web and mobile app access to our cards, offering both a low-friction and feature-rich gifting experience in the same app. Today, European consumers can use our mobile website to purchase cards from their mobile devices, and we will be launching Android and iOS mobile apps in Europe very soon.”
Additionally, eGifter’s mobile apps are integrated with popular digital wallets such as Apple Passbook, Samsung Wallet and, soon, Google Wallet, he pointed out.
Doing things ‘by the book’
Roye also indicated that eGifter connects to each brand either directly or via their processor and pulls digital gift cards in real-time. This enables the firm to offer variable-denomination cards that can be purchased in “one-penny” increments, meaning consumers can buy a gift card on their mobile phone for the exact amount of their purchase, and use it at the point of sale.
“We take the time to become an authorized reseller; doing things ‘by the book’ with the brands [to protect] our customers,” he said.
In the US, the firm continues to include new retailers in its marketplace, recently adding Best Buy, Whole Foods, TJ Maxx and others.
“We are also getting strong adoption of our white-label platform, recently launching on Applebee’s website, bringing our total to more than 20 brands on the platform. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency sales grow every month and we expect to see record levels this holiday season.”
Internet shopping image via Shutterstock