Last month, payment startup Square introduced Square Gift Cards, allowing users to buy and give gift cards directly on their smartphones. Gift-givers choose a business, select an amount, and send gifts with a personalized note. Chalk up gift-giving as yet another errand you can now run without having to leave your living room or boot up your laptop. (If you stay in your footie pajamas, no one has to know.)
With this service, Square is diving into the already-crowded pool of online and mobile gifting. The startup world is packed with similar services such as Giftly, Gyft, GiftRocket and Wrapp. Bigger companies want in, too: OpenTable acquired Treatful, an online restaurant gift cards service, while Facebook acquired gifting app startup Karma and re-branded it as Facebook Gifts.
Given the competition, what sets Square Gift Cards apart? For iPhone users, the gifting experience is as seamless as possible: Square Gift Cards boasts integration with Apple's Passbook for iOS 6, so gift-givers won't even have to open the Square Wallet app. As another bonus, users don’t need to have a Square account to use its gift card feature - all they need is a valid email address.
Online gifting is a boon to local merchants who might otherwise avoid creating gift cards due to the hassles of implementing a gift card program. If you're a small business already using Square, this new gift card program will be a great add-on to your existing service.