Ernex unveils easier gift card EFT settlements
The US-based loyalty and stored-value gift card provider Ernex has launched a new electronic funds transfer (EFT) feature to help eliminate the manual reconciliation process that merchants go through with their gift card programmes.
Merchants that operate a stored value gift card programme can use the EFT feature from Ernex (a division of Moneris Solutions Corporation) for automated fund settlements to help reduce their administrative overhead. They can transfer funds into or out of a shared bank account (whether managed by a corporate head office or a collection of merchants), and the head office can also debit or credit individual merchant accounts - in essence, paying each location for the value of gift cards redeemed through their branch.
Gift card pains? Gift cards have become a popular merchandising item for retailers. A recent Statistics Canada survey of 80 retailers, representing some 11,000 stores, found that more than 50% of the stores interviewed offered gift cards in December 2003. But by December 2004, that figure had increased to 68%.
"Franchised environments are often drowning in paperwork and cumbersome methods of transferring funds between owners," said Malcolm Fowler, vice president and general manager for Ernex. "Ernex's role in the process, beyond supplying merchants with a gift card programme, is to track where a gift card is sold and redeemed, and then settle the funds between merchants. The faster and more accurately franchises can balance their books when it comes to the business of gift cards, the better."
Mutual benefit The beauty of a gift card programme for consumers, especially when there are franchises or groups of retailers involved, is that they can use the card at several locations. But, Fowler says, the consumer's benefit should not come at the expense of the franchisees' costs and efficiency.
Apart from its stored-value gift cards and processing systems, Ernex also offers merchants real-time marketing solutions such as privately branded or multi-merchant loyalty schemes, loyalty reward fulfilment and database hosting services. Its target markets include the financial, retail, restaurant and hospitality industries, as well as large membership organisations.