Why this gift startup has been described as the 'Venmo' of gifting

GiftYa Founder Jason Wolfe joins Yahoo Finance Live to talk about his new startup and how it protects gift recipients from fraud and eliminates the need for plastic gift cards.

Video Transcript


AKIKO FUJITA: With so many products in short supply, a lot of consumers may be opting for gift cards this holiday season. Our next guest says he's found a new way to make that process a little more seamless. And all it requires is your smartphone and a credit card. Let's bring in Jason Wolfe, who is the founder of GiftYa.

Jason, it's good to talk to you. Talk to me about this concept and how it works.

JASON WOLFE: Thank you, Akiko. Yeah, so as a former founder of giftcards.com, I've been in the gift card space for a long, long time. And what we know about gift cards is that they can be lost, stolen. There's actually fraudulent activity that can occur on them because they're anonymous forms of currency.

And so after I sold giftcards.com, I started focusing on this new concept. The new concept is a card-linked gift. So Akiko, I would get you a gift for, say, Starbucks. You get a text message. You'll click on that text. You'll then link your Visa or Mastercard that's in your current pocket, OK? And when you go to Starbucks, you may forget you even have it. You don't have to worry about carrying it around.

When you swipe that Visa or Mastercard that you registered, we'll see the transaction. And we'll credit your card, your Visa or Mastercard, with the gift amount. So it eliminates fraud, saves the planet, no plastics. It's personalized. It solves a lot of the problems in the gift card space that I knew very intimately as the founder of giftcards.com.

JARED BLIKRE: It's personalized, but I've got to tell you. Every Christmas, I get a Starbucks gift card from someone in particular. I don't shop at Starbucks. Usually I just give it away. But is there a solution now where I can just trade that for other points or other gift card services now?

JASON WOLFE: There is. I mean, inside this product GiftYa, we have the ability to exchange. So if you've got a Starbucks gift and you didn't want it, you can exchange it for Dunkin' Donuts or even a Visa card, exchange it for a Visa card. We'll ship you out Visa card for, absolutely, a problem that people face all the time, gifts that they don't want.

AKIKO FUJITA: Jason, what kind of growth are you expecting this holiday season? I know we've been talking so much about these warnings about products, toys, game consoles not being on store shelves, not being available because of this bottleneck that we've been seeing. Are you finding an uptick already more than a month out from the holidays?

JASON WOLFE: Akiko, yes, we have. I mean, I have read some information about Hasbro. And we're getting 85% of our plastic toys from China. We have shipping issues that we've been all seeing in the news. We've seen an increase of about 27% year over year for the past month. We think that's going to continue.

With shipping issues, with lack of product on store shelves, we think that this is something that people will opt for, a gift card. I do think, if you're going to buy a gift card, definitely look for a reputable website. Giftcards.com, which is our former website, you can buy from, great personalized gifts that they offer. Gift Card Granny, if you're looking for discounts, is another website that if you want to get a gift card but you don't want to pay face value, definitely go there.

And I would encourage you to even look local. Go to a local merchant, walk in, grab a gift card, and give a gift card that way.

JARED BLIKRE: Oh, before we go, I know you were an early entry into the online coupon business. I'm wondering if you're involved in any of those kind of projects or just kind of tying in that business model with the gift cards.

JASON WOLFE: Jared, that's a great question. So yeah, I started the first coupon site in 1995. I'm a little old right now, but a long time ago. I built and sold that to a public company in 2000.

I've been in the saving space for a while. But I transitioned to giftcards.com probably 15 years ago. There are some abilities to discount, for sure. There's abilities to take card-linked gifting that I just explained with GiftYa, where you're giving a gift linked to your Visa or Mastercard. There's a whole industry called card-linked offers that you can discount using Visa or Mastercard-linked discounts at the local retailer, for sure.