ChargeSmart, an online consumer bill payment portal, and Plastic Jungle, the web's largest secured gift card exchange, today announced a partnership to enable customers to use unredeemed gift cards to make payments on utility, car and mortgage bills.
This new gift card exchange solution was officially debuted this afternoon at FinovateSpring 2011, the high-profile banking technology conference held in San Francisco, and will be available to the public within the next couple months.
Merchant-issued - or closed loop - gift cards now represent $90 billion of the U.S. economy, and an estimated $30 billion in gift cards are unredeemed at any given time. Plastic Jungle brings liquidity to the secondary gift card market by allowing consumers to buy gift cards at their favorite stores for savings up to 35 percent, sell unredeemed gift cards for up to 92 percent of the gift card value, or donate the value of unused cards to their favorite cause. Through ChargeSmart and Plastic Jungle, consumers will be able to apply up to 92 percent of the value of a gift card toward an outstanding bill.
"As the statistics suggest, people love to buy and receive gift cards, yet many cards are never used," said Tim Brinkman, CEO of ChargeSmart. "ChargeSmart and Plastic Jungle ensure that customers capture value from those gift cards, even if it means redirecting their intended use toward making more practical purchases like paying their bills."
"Utility, car and mortgage bills have to be paid, so every dollar applied from these gift cards puts real money in the pockets of our customers," said Bruce Bower, CEO of Plastic Jungle. "Our joint solution with ChargeSmart will get gift cards out of American sock drawers and provide a valuable, seamless and instant way to reduce these non-discretionary expenses."