Gift Cards on Demand

Cruz Bay Solutions and Radiant Systems jointly release kiosk-based gift card application.

Cruz Bay Solutions and Radiant Systems are teaming to create an on-demand gift card kiosk.

The iGift Print on Demand Gift Card Kiosk leverages touch-screen technology to enable customers to design, load and print gift cards.

"No credit card data is stored at the kiosk," said David Perlow, president of Cruz Bay Solutions, which builds self-service gift card products. "Everything is stored at a PCI-compliant transaction gateway hosted at a co-located facility."

Perlow said iGift, announced March 7, runs on a Radiant Systems K664 kiosk, which is a version of the Radiant K660 ticketing kiosk modified to accommodate a gift card printer and a receipt printer. Cruz Bay Solutions provides the technology to accept, process and route customer payments.

"Everything is SSL encrypted, including all communications between the kiosk and the transaction gateway," he said. "The transaction gateway is certified by the financial processors and gift card processors to route transactions to those entities."

Perlow said one key differentiating feature of iGift is that it does not have to be integrated with an individual retailer's POS (point-of-sale) system.

"The gift card is activated with funds from the financial transaction and ends up in the retailer's specified merchant account," he said. "It saves a lot of work and aggravation for the IT department."

Brian Riley, an analyst with TowerGroup, said kiosk-based gift card distribution systems can offer benefits to both consumers and retailers.

"Kiosks compete with the arrays of gift cards from different retailers you see at [several major pharmacy and discount retailers]," Riley said. "The objective here is to simplify the distribution. You get the same immediate POS activation."

While Riley said consumers run the same security risks buying gift cards at a kiosk as they do at a manned POS terminal, he said that in some respects, a kiosk purchase can be safer.

"People are more detail-oriented when they deal with a machine than with a human clerk," he said.

As a result, he said, a customer is more likely to notice an error in a gift card purchased at a kiosk before they leave the store, when their right to dispute becomes minimal. In addition, Riley said the kiosk eliminates gift card security issues associated with dishonest clerks.

For retailers, Riley said distributing gift cards via kiosk simplifies the purchasing process. "It was pretty easy before," he said. "Now retailers have a central spot that lowers handling costs."

He said that in a variation on the gift card kiosk model, there will soon be kiosks placed in U.S. airports that will allow customers to buy cards in foreign denominations for use when they travel overseas.

iGift offers customers a variety of personalization options, which Perlow said include text messages and photos. He said the solution also allows customers to perform balance inquiries on gift cards they buy.

Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out's Retail Site.