by Alex Palmer | November 08, 2016
As e-gift cards have established themselves as a favorite reward among incentive recipients and consumers, efforts are increasing to provide added security to the sending and receiving of the digital incentives. To ensure consumers, program managers, and retail partners are protected from fraud, scams, and hacks, the industry's gift card suppliers have taken steps to strengthen security features: In October, National Gift Card Corp. unveiled its Retail Partner Gift Card Agency, aimed at not only simplifying fulfillment and lead generation, but providing fraud protection for its more than 450 gift card brands. The same week, the startup Centz Inc. announced its plans to expand its multi-stage security technology into the gift card industry.

Another card supplier taking security seriously is SVM Cards. Incentive spoke with John Cullen, vice president of sales and marketing for SVM Cards about why security has become a top concern for his company and what incentive program managers should be doing to protect participants and the card companies they work with.

Incentive: Why do you think we're hearing more about e-gift card security now?

Cullen: If there is any emerging trend in 2016, it really is the industry's recognition of risk uniquely associated with e-gift cards and digital products in general. Rather than making e-gift cards look slicker or delivery easier, it's about making sure you get the card to a reseller or individual consumer or end user in a secure fashion. Our focus is on making sure SVM is a reliable partner to retail brands as well as clients that we service -- our retail partners look to us for some leadership on the issue. 

Our focus on it and willingness to recommend security steps, even not engaging certain customers who won't abide by the protocol, is something that has earned us props in the industry. We've had customers say, "No one else requires us to do that," but we can say, "We are helping you mitigate your risk."

Incentive: What are some of the steps incentive program managers should be seeking from gift card providers?

Cullen: There are standard things that should be and in many cases have been adopted throughout the industry: two-factor authentication and propriety secure transfer process for cards. These have gone across our enterprise now and are how we conduct our business.

 Are you seeing growth in the e-gift sector more generally?

Cullen: For the program managers we talk to, it's really a cost consideration. If they can engage that consumer or end user or recipient in a way that reinforces their message -- or brand or incentive the card is associated with -- at the same time they lower costs, that will drive them to it. But it's still nice to get the piece of mail with the gift card in it and have the branding impact there.

Our overall business is healthy, and we've seen a doubling in e-gift business in overall gift card volume. It's taken off quite nicely, which is another reason to focus on security.