Update 23:00 GMT – Updated with commentary from Gyft CEO Vinny Lingham
San Francisco-based mobile gift card app provider Gyft officially added US retail giant Walmart to its merchant network on 24th March.
The company took to Twitter to release the news that the largest physical retailer in the US, which earned more than $325bn from its US retail stores in 2012, and garnered more than $460bn in sales worldwide that year, had been added to its service.
— gyft (@gyft) March 24, 2014
Speaking to CoinDesk about the news, Gyft CEO Vinny Lingham indicated that he believes Walmart’s decision reflects the strong brand his roughly two-year-old company has already successfully built:
“I think it’s pretty clear that we’ve built a great interface, we have great customers and we offer a great user experience. […] We’ve built a brand, and retailers see that we have a very valuable position as an alternative to the plastic gift card on the rack model.”
Walmart Gyft cards can be purchased in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500. Gyft provides 3% cashback on all bitcoin purchases using its cards.
Notably, Walmart’s Gyft cards are also available for use at popular membership-only discount retail outlet Sam’s Club.
Private ways to pay
In an interview, Lingham stressed that he sees the success of bitcoin and mobile gift cards as reflective to how retailers are responding to the desire consumers have for increased privacy.
Lingham notes, for example, that gift cards are gaining popularity with parents who don’t want to share important financial information with their children, or risk that information in the hands of a companies that may be susceptible to data breaches.
“Privacy is important, and the gift card market is a way to offer that. If you want privacy, you can use bitcoin and PayPal with us.”
Why Walmart matters
Walmart has more than 11,000 locations in 27 countries, including upwards of 3,000 Walmart Supercenters with full-service supermarkets and gas stations, meaning Walmart’s Gyft cards will allow bitcoiners to redeem their bitcoins for a number of attractive new items.
Unsurprisingly, given Walmart’s size and the extent of its offerings, it was among the most requested retailers by Gyft users.
The largest merchant previously on the network was the Minnesota-based retailer Target, which boasts 1,790 locations in the US and more than 100 stores in Canada.
The announcement ends more than four months of calls from the community for Gyft to strike a deal with the Arkansas-based megastore. Bitcoin users were particularly active posting to reddit about the issue in the wake of Target’s November decision to join the Gyft network.
Lingham indicated that his company is always particularly proud after a big launch like this, saying: “It’s great that the community is behind us and engaged.” But, he remains focused on the next major merchants coming down the pipeline, hinting that more big announcements for the bitcoin community are “in the hopper”.
So far, the outpouring has been highly visible on Twitter and reddit.
— John R. Meese (@JohnRMeese) March 24, 2014
Gyft has been equally supportive of the bitcoin community, with CEO Vinny Lingham penning an open note to the community in November. That announcement indicated that Gyft would continue to invest heavily in adding merchants to its network that fit the needs of its growing bitcoin user base.
So far, it would seem, the company is showing it can get results.