Viacom Inc. ‘s Blockbuster Entertainment Group and CES/NaBANCO, the largest processor of merchant credit card services in the world, recently joined forces to develop and deploy a stored value electronic giftcard that can be used the same as cash at Blockbuster Video, Blockbuster Music and Discovery Zone FunCenter locations.
As they launch the project, the two companies are negotiating for further business relationships and exploring opportunities with other major retail or service businesses to provide the giftcards to their customers as bonuses, premiums or gift certificates.
The Blockbuster GiftCard was tested late last year in Salt Lake City Blockbuster stores and was later made available as part of the company’s holiday merchandising program. The giftcard permits gift-givers the opportunity to give cash and permits recipients some personal freedom in making their own purchasing decisions. The giftcard is separate from the Blockbuster Visa card, which now has more than 400,000 cardholders and is one of the most successful co-branded credit cards in history.
Blockbuster is one of the first national retailers to offer an electronic giftcard. The electronic giftcard differs from Blockbuster’s familiar gift certificate in that it is a plastic card with a magnetic stripe across the back which accesses account information stored in the CES/NaBANCO computer, including the decreasing value of the prepaid card, which can be issued in any denomination. When a customer presents the card for payment and it is scanned like a normal credit card, the transaction is forwarded to NaBANCO’s computer at its Fort Lauderdale headquarters, for payment authorization and account processing. If the transaction doesn’t consume the full value left on the card, the remaining balance, which can be used for additional transactions, is maintained in the giftcard account.
“We are excited about the many customer conveniences inherent in the giftcard as well as the vast array of challenging cross-promotional opportunities it affords Blockbuster in cooperation with other major business partners,” said Brian Woods, senior vice president of marketing for Blockbuster Entertainment Croup. He added, “We have already determined keen interest from major brands in the use of the Blockbuster GiftCard in their marketing plans. Rather than trying to make our giftcard an exclusive Blockbuster vehicle, we also encourage other companies to include it in their marketing options.”
The giftcards could even become hot collectible items, reflecting popular movies or other themes. Blockbuster can change the look of the cards to reflect various hit movies as they enter the rental or sell- through markets.
The giftcard can be used as a promotional-based card to replace paper gift certificates.
Harvey Seslowsky, director of sales and marketing/in-store media, who heads Blockbuster’s marketing effort in this area, said, “He are pleased to have a partner with CES/NaBANCO’s unrivaled leadership in the merchant card processing industry joining us in development of this program. We look forward to their creativity and technical leadership to expand the ways in which we can market the Blockbuster GiftCard around the world in the months and years ahead.”
CES/NaBANCO, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is a leading processor of merchant credit card transactions and is a subsidiary of First Data Corporation/Card Services Croup. Omaha-based First Data Corporation is a leading provider of high-quality, high-volume information processing and related services.
Blockbuster Entertainment Group is a worldwide leader in entertainment retailing, television and film production, live entertainment and premium television. The Croup is composed of Blockbuster Video, Blockbuster Music, Showtime Networks Inc., Spelling Entertainment, Discovery Zone and Paramount Parks.
Viacom Inc. is one of the world’s largest entertainment and publishing companies and a leading force in nearly every segment of the international media marketplace. The operations of Viacom also include MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Television, Simon & Schuster and Viacom Interactive Media, as well as cable systems, radio and television stations, and movie screens in 11 countries.