First Data acquires bitcoin-friendly digital gift certificate provider Gyft

Home » First Data acquires bitcoin-friendly digital gift certificate provider Gyft
Gyft logo.

Gyft logo.

For many bitcoiners, Gyft provides a hugely important link between their BTC holdings and the brick-and-mortar world. By allowing gift cards to some of the world’s largest retailers to be purchased with bitcoin, often at a significant discount, Gyft is also one of the first companies to embrace the power of cryptocurrency in a real-world context. With such a useful system at stake, it’s hardly surprising that today’s announcement that Gyft has been acquired by payment industry giant First Data is being met with a mixture of excitement and skepticism.

Although it is a true giant of the payments industry, First Data isn’t well known by the general public. What most people do know are its current and former brands: TeleCheck, the STAR ATM network, Western Union (spun off in 2006). If you’ve bought a pre-paid debit or gift card, odds are good that it was a First Data product. Clearly, the company sees something of great value in bitcoin-friendly Gyft.

Writing on the Gyft blog, CEO Vinny Lingham said that the new partnership will “enable Gyft to power forward in the digital gifting space” and urged current customers not to worry about changes to the platform. Instead, Lingham suggested that Gyft would instead be expanding its offerings via the First Data network.

What does this mean for you? Simply put: A better Gyft experience. Continue to use Gyft as you have been. The only changes that will take place are significant improvements on our platform such as more national retailers, faster balance checking across our brands and improved user experience.”

In an interview with PandoDaily, First Data Senior Vice President of Prepaid Solutions Mark Putman explained that the Gyft acquisition was very much about grabbing a piece of a rapidly growing mobile market.

“We could have built this internally, but we think that as fast as we’re moving in digital there’s value in the speed of acquiring an existing technology an consumer audience,” Putman said. “They have addressed a large piece of the technological problem not to mention developed a really simple and intuitive user interface. That’s one area where I think we can say to them, you’re smarter than us.”

Although Putman didn’t specifically mention bitcoin, it’s clear that Gyft’s offerings and appeal come in part from it’s adoption of digital currency. With First Data’s massive client list, users may soon see their ability to indirectly use bitcoin expand into a huge range of new markets, such as grocery and gas cards.

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