One of the great struggles I have come across in adult life is trying to figure out what gifts to buy friends and family for Christmas, and on the flip side give friends and family a good idea of what I’d like to receive for special occasions: after all, we’re all adults with jobs and can, in theory, buy ourselves whatever we please, when we want.
This means I usually spend each year giving and receiving gift cards or cash, which, let’s be honest, many of us probably prefer anyway.
To make gifting cash easier is the app Giftwell.
The app was founded by Melbourne lawyer Marta Barbayannis, who described GiftWell as “an electronic wishing well” making it easier to “give gifts for life’s special moments”.
“Its mission is to replace traditional cash-in-a-card gifting with an easy and secure process,” she said.
The idea came to Barbayannis from her experiences attending special events. She said she was finding that the excitement of attending events was being “undermined by the societal taboo of gifting money”, and the inconvenience of stopping at an ATM along the way (because who carries cash anymore?).
“As we edge closer to becoming a cashless society, I identified a need to be able to give a gift of money in a more efficient and modern way. We all tap for coffee these days – no one carries enough cash to be able to pop in a card at a moment’s notice,” Barbayannis said.
Opting for an item to gift, meanwhile, can mean hours of searching for the perfect thing. But beyond the time factor, Barbayannis also believes there’s a sustainability angle when it comes to gifts – particularly now we’re all asking ourselves whether items spark joy.
“From a sustainability standpoint, seeking an alternative solution to buying or receiving unnecessary things is paramount,” she explained.
“I was becoming hyper-aware of the excess that kids have these days and decided it was time to challenge the societal taboo of asking for birthday money. GiftWell is driving a cultural change to make it okay to do so.”
Partnering with Melbourne development agency Bugbean to create the app, Barbayannis admitted the temptation to add features to Giftwell without market demand has been challenging.
“There are things that I want the app to do but I have to apply restraint,” she said.
“On the flip side, staying true to the vision in the face of suggestions that deviate from our game plan is hard too. The temptation to add too many frills if allowed will result in straying from the original concept which is, at its core, a simple transactional facility that essentially modernises cash gifting as cash gets phased out.”
With simplicity in mind, Giftwell works by having the person hosting create an event through the app. They will be given a Giftwell ID number that they can send to friends when inviting them, with friends then able to download the app, input the ID, and give money.
The person hosting will then have the money paid out into their linked PayPal account, in one lump sum.
Giftwell takes a $3 transaction fee from each gift giver, which Barbayannis believes is a small fee to pay: “Users are not paying an ATM withdrawal fee, buying a card or wrapping paper,” she said.
Barbayannis is pitching the app at a broad market – “basically anyone who is having a special event,” she said, from weddings to birthday parties, graduations to office group gifts, fundraises, or charity donations.
“Wedding couples are a big part of our early marketing strategy because there is already an established culture of gifting money there. Couples planning an upcoming wedding are wanting to use the latest technology as a convenient alternative to gifting cash,” she said.
“Parents with kids are a focus too; we are giving them something they can identify with and providing a solution to a problem they can all relate to.”
Barbayannis is taking Giftwell to expos to help get the word out, with the goal for the next few months to increase brand awareness and help the app become front of mind when someone has an event.
“Whilst our audiences love the idea and see value in the product, unless they have an immediate event coming up they won’t necessarily create one. We want to see our consumers think GiftWell when they have something special happening,” she said.
“Being a financial product, we are also seeking a level of trust and familiarity as a safe and reputable brand.”
Image: Marta Barbayannis. Source: Supplied.
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