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Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App

Facebook Card stores money that can be spent at multiple retailers, which could broaden its gift card appeal.

Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
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Facebook has just announced the simply named Facebook Card, a product that has the potential to drive significant new sales and participation on the social network.

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.

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mike
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mike,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/17/2013 | 3:40:32 PM
re: Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App
I think it will be partly dependent on the variety of stores they can sign up. Also, if they can offer favorable fees compared to say, visa or amex, it might work. A really interesting concept might be to enable smaller local chains to join and advertise sales for cardholders. That would take advantage of the program and FB's extreme localization capability.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2013 | 8:20:48 PM
re: Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App
It seems like that would make things easier. It reminds me of cards you can get at certain malls that are good for any participating store in the mall.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2013 | 8:19:24 PM
re: Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App
I guess even 1% of a billion isn't bad :)

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2013 | 8:18:39 PM
re: Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App
Thank you for your comment. I agree that that is the big "but." The idea makes sense in theory, but I agree with you that there is a lot of mistrust in Facebook's ability to manage privacy and security.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
SausageMaster
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SausageMaster,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2013 | 4:03:23 PM
re: Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App
It would be better if the card was a regular gift card balance that could be used anywhere. The costs would be higher but simpler for the recipients and have a more universal appeal.
PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/3/2013 | 7:04:47 PM
re: Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App
I believe that this is another smart move by Facebook to keep up on the top of the tech world. They have a viable business idea and it will work, even it doesnG«÷t. What I mean by that is that Facebook has such a large user database that the law of averages will kick in and the result will be success even if the product isnG«÷t that great. It is hard to judge the popularity of an item when the amount of people in the poll infinite. I do however think that this will be a success based upon the cards functionality.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
HoldenM410
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HoldenM410,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/2/2013 | 8:06:16 PM
re: Facebook Card May Be Social Network's Killer App
Who in their right mind would give facebook their credit card number to purchase these cards? Zuckerburg must be banking on a sucker being born every minute.
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