A Quick Test Drive of the Uber Gift Card…Use Cases Abound


Navigator Edition: November / December 2016
By: John Grund and Aaron Mercurio

Uber recently launched a gift card just in time for the holiday season. The cards are being promoted and distributed online (our test was triggered by an email from Uber) and in physical stores (Target, Gamestop, and others are listed as distribution partners). We tested the purchase and redemption experience soon after the program launched.

Purchasing an Uber gift card was simple – we were offered different denominations and a few design choices, including uploading your own photo (see Figure 1). There was also an option for businesses to place a bulk order.

Figure 1: UBER Gift Card Design Choices

Sources: Company website.

Consumers can buy gift cards online through a link at Uber.com, but not yet in the Uber app. The online gift card purchase engine is powered by CashStar. CashStar also acts as the merchant of record for digital gift cards, processing both credit/debit cards and PayPal under their merchant account with merchant descriptions of CS*UBERGIFTCARD and PAYPAL *CS*UBER, respectively, appearing on the cardholder’s statement.

The digital version of the gift card arrives with a subject of “[Sender] just sent you an Uber Gift Card” from UberGiftCards@Cashstar.com. The gift card describes the dollar amount gifted, a personalized message from the sender, a link to redemption instructions, and a statement that the card is good for rides in every Uber city in the U.S., with no fees and no expiration date.

The actual redemption process is quite simple and takes place within the app (see Figure 2):

  1. Open the ‘Payment’ section within the Uber App’s side menu
  2. Select “Add Promo/Gift Code”
  3. Enter the alphanumeric card number provided on the gift card (plastic or digital)
  4. Funds are automatically debited from your account’s balance when you use the app for a ride

Figure 2: UBER Gift Card Redemption Flow

Sources: Company website and First Annapolis Consulting analysis.

The more important and exciting aspects of the Uber gift card are the many use cases that could evolve over time. The “gift” descriptor may not do justice to the many possibilities based on the direction that Uber takes its program and the platform. Take a look at Starbucks to frame the possibilities: Starbucks stands out as the most unique stored value program in the market today – it is the foundation for Starbucks Rewards, has global scale, leading mobile usage, a high self-use rate, remarkable prepaid load volume, digital and physical distribution, high B2B appeal, and the list goes on.

Uber is equally exciting as a platform for stored value when one thinks beyond their flagship car service. The prepaid applications are likely to expand to other services within the “Uber Everything” division, such as UberEATS, a food delivery service, and UberRUSH, a package delivery service aimed at business users in select markets. In addition, Uber stored value products present a number of exciting partnership opportunities which could span local restaurants to large-scale event coordinators, services for Uber drivers, and much more.

For more information, please contact John Grund, Partner, john.grund@firstannapolis.com; or Aaron Mercurio, Manager, aaron.mercurio@firstannapolis.com.

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