According to Reuters the place to watch is the nexus of social media, gifting and mobile. This nexus interests Reid Hoffman, a cofounder of LinkedIn and a partner at Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Greylock Partners enough to provide start up Wrapp, just one social gifting company, with around $10 million.
As well as being the point where ‘happening’ technologies are meeting, the timing seems right too. Retailers are looking for ways of taking better advantage of the blurring space where the on-line world meets bricks and mortar and this provides an answer. Starbucks, for instance, expects social gifting to make up about 20 percent of its gifting business in the near future.
Retailers offer small value gift cards which users get for free. These users can add more money to the card before sending it to a friend, or retailers can offer paid gift cards that a user can fill up and send to their Facebook friends.
E-gifting accounted for only $1 billion of the $100 billion gift card industry last year, and of that $1 billion, social gifting made up only about 5 percent, or $50 million. But the growth in e-gifting is huge.
If we are still skeptical or believe this is a passing craze, bellwether innovator Apple has just applied for a patent covering processes for gifting digital content to friends using, amongst other technologies, our old friend NFC.
Suddenly we have a ‘Doh!’ moment. Americans – well all of us – love giving gifts – ‘send a kiss’ with Herscheys for example. Apple is good at being ‘on the money’. So Apple’s NFC play looks as if it won’t be payments, or at least not exactly.