Facebook Card is an actual card -- one that looks and feels just like your credit and debit cards -- that can be used to redeem actual merchandise. The really interesting thing is that you can maintain balances from different retailers on the one card.
Here's how it works, according to Facebook: First you select a gift or a store from the Gift Cards & Digital category, then choose an amount of money you want to spend and complete your purchase. The recipient of the gift will be notified instantly about the gift, and the Facebook Card will be mailed to the person a few days later. As soon as the Facebook Card arrives, the person can use the card at the retailer you've chosen for the amount you've designated. Once someone has received a card, any additional gifts from you or others will be added to it. Facebook said a card can hold multiple gift balances for different stores, restaurants and services. For example, said a Facebook blog post about the card, "you might have gift balances of $100 at Sephora, $75 at Target, $50 at Olive Garden, and $8.25 at Jamba Juice.
What does all this mean in practice? Well, think about this past holiday season. How many different gift cards did you and/or family members receive? Was it hard to keep track of them? Are there some you haven't even used yet? Are there some you will never use? Having everything in one place seems like it will be hugely appealing for both gift givers and gift getters. Making things even more efficient, gift balances for the Facebook Card can be viewed from a mobile or desktop system, and Facebook will provide notification when balances change by sending real-time notification to a user's phone.
This seems very simple but devilishly clever. If Facebook can get enough businesses to jump on board -- and enough of the right businesses (think retailers that appeal to people who get a lot of gift cards, such as teenagers, teachers, and so on) -- Facebook becomes an easy one-stop shop for gift cards. This could not only drive sales for businesses that participate but potentially increase registrations for and use of Facebook.
Facebook said the ability to send a Facebook Card gift will roll out gradually to users in the United States.
What do you think of the idea of a Facebook Card? Would you gift one? Want to receive one? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.