Commerce and payments platform Marqeta today announced that it is the company providing the technology behind the Facebook Card, a gift card that can hold balances for a number of retailers or restaurants simultaneously.
Marqeta had agreed with Facebook not to disclose this until now. The announcement came as part of news about Marqeta’s latest round of funding: a $14 million Series B from Greylock IL, Granite Ventures, Commerce Ventures and a number of new angel and strategic investors.
The company’s +M Platform connects online and offline commerce through prepaid loyalty programs, similar to the Starbucks Card. It also allows prepaid amounts from multiple merchants, which is what Facebook is taking advantage of for its card. Facebook Card is a resusable gift card that can be loaded with balances for different businesses when a user’s friends buy them gifts through the social network.
When Facebook Card launched in January, Target, Jamba Juice, Olive Garden and Sephora were the only partners, making it not very compelling. It has since added Walgreens, Burger King, Outback Steakhouse and Staples — still quite limited and user awareness still seems to be very low. We haven’t seen Facebook make any efforts to advertise this offering, though it has been promoting Gifts overall across the platform.
In general, Gifts have been slow to take off, in part because of confusion about what Gifts are. Some users, remembering Facebook’s virtual gift shop from a few years ago, don’t realize the new Gifts are actual physical and digital goods. Others are skeptical because they think Gifts are a third-party app, not something from Facebook. Still others might not be using the product because they feel Facebook is not personal enough to send friends and loved ones presents through, or they’re concerned about providing their credit card information to the social network.
Until Facebook can better address users’ concerns and convey the benefits of Gifts — users don’t need to know a friend’s address, they can share the Gift on a friend’s wall or keep it private, payment information is secure — the product is unlikely to come into widespread use. If it can position it as a convenient but intimate way to show someone they care, then Gifts and Facebook Card might start to fulfill their potential as new stream of revenue for the company and shape commerce like Marqeta and Facebook seem to intend.