PERTH, SCOTLAND–Downtown gift card company Miconex has announced new program launches in Ontario, alongside EML Payments Limited, following the success of existing gift card systems for Peterborough and Prince Edward Island. The new ‘Downtown Dollars’ systems are set to launch in Downtown Sudbury and Downtown London in summer 2021.

Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) launched its Boro Gift Card in December 2020 replacing its paper Downtown Money system. Within its first month, the Boro Gift Card achieved $70,000 in sales- equivalent to around 5 years of sales for their old paper system. Over $120,000 of Downtown Dollars have been sold to date.

Terry Guiel is the Executive Director of the Peterborough DBIA and said the Boro Gift Card provides the community with the opportunity to support local businesses:

“Miconex’s Downtown Gift Card system has been a game changer for us. We wanted to move away from the paper money system which was incredibly time consuming as well as a security risk. But more than that, we realized that to compete in the growing gift card market as well as with the likes of Amazon we had to offer an attractive alternative, and one that was local.

Andrew Monaghan, CEO, North America

“Our new gift card is super easy. It can be used on universal terminals, which was a major selling point for us. Now things are set up and we’re past the holiday rush, on average we spend only a few minutes each day processing the cards. It’s incredibly easy to manage, seamless and our customers love it. We developed the Boro brand and gift card holders, the perfect size to slot into an envelope. With our new Boro Gift Card we’ve been able to transform our whole downtown into a local mall with its own dedicated gift card that can be used in over 120 businesses.

“Fifty percent of our gift card sales come from outside the area, fifteen percent of redemption are new customers to that business and sixty-five percent is usually spent over and above the gift card value. It brings new money into the community, gives people choice whilst also lessening their ability to spend outside of the area, and encourages them to be more experimental. It’s a great example of what a downtown can do for its members.”

In September, Downtown London will also replace its Downtown Dollars program with a gift card powered by Miconex and EML. The new gift cards can be loaded with any dollar amount and spent in person at around 60 participating businesses including restaurants, grab & go eateries, entertainment venues, live music, sporting facilities and retail stores, or online on Downtown London’s Online Marketplace.

Sudbury’s new gift card is the latest initiative from Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Association (BIA) to encourage people to visit and shop in the core. Downtown Dollars can be purchased at Miconex’s My Downtown Gift Card website, and spent with numerous businesses in Sudbury, such as restaurants, retailers, salons and attractions.

Kyle Marcus, the managing director at Downtown Sudbury BIA and owner of cocktail bar The Alibi Room said it’s vital for communities to unite following the pandemic:

“Sudbury has been on a journey of change for some time, from small mining town to urban multicultural city. The pandemic has further changed our community offering new opportunities for growth as we’re experiencing an influx of people wanting to relocate to Sudbury for its mix of urban centre and outdoor recreation. As a small business owner, I can say from first-hand experience how hard it has been for businesses. Community unity is vital for Sudbury’s recovery, the Downtown Dollars Gift Card allows us to support merchants by giving them another revenue stream, and capitalize on the emigration from nearby cities. We’re positioning Sudbury for the future.”

The Canada’s Food Island Gift Card was introduced by the Food Island Partnership in September 2020 to stimulate the economy and lock in spend on Prince Edward Island. The initiative was supported by the P.E.I government, with gift cards sold at 20% discount. Over $3.7 million has now been loaded onto Canada’s Food Island Gift Cards.

The province recently announced a new staycation incentive, with a $100 gift card given with each consecutive two-night stay at participating P.E.I accommodation, as part of a $66 million support package for the island’s tourism industry.

Bloomberg analysis of SafeGraph Inc showed that footfall at clothing stores in Canada was up 44 oercebt in June 2021 vs. June 2019. Statistics Canada’s May 2021 retail trade release put overall sales in March 2021 at $55 billion, up 27 percent on March 2020. Ontario recorded $20 billion in sales in March 2021, up 21 percent on March 2020.

In the US, Miconex will also introduce new gift card programs in South Dakota, Alabama, Idaho and Massachusetts in 2021, adding to existing systems in Alaska, Montana, Virginia, Arizona, Michigan, East Boston and Colorado.

Ailie Kofoid, CEO Americas at EML, said, ”Miconex’s rapid Canadian Downtowns expansion means hundreds of thousands more families are enjoying local places and a fintech-friendly summer.”

Andy Monaghan is CEO of Miconex North America and said downtowns are looking for new ways to stimulate the economy:

“In Ontario, there are multiple organizations focused on the success of businesses, from DBIAs and local Chambers of Commerce to local government. As well as stimulating the economy, these organizations naturally feel they have a role to play in bringing consumers back. A gift card system is a tangible way that they can support small, local businesses. It also means they can be ready for the holiday period when demand for gift cards will rocket.

“Over $6.8 billion is being spent on gift cards in Ontario each year. This significant amount of money goes to the big national and international chains and internet retailers. Introducing a program means places like Peterborough, London and Sudbury can harness that spend, and take their fair share of the gift card market. And when places see their program not as a gift card but a local currency, there is an opportunity to be hugely creative. Our job at Miconex is helping downtowns to figure out the challenges they’re facing right now and a plan for success that benefits the whole community.

Miconex was founded in 2010 and works with towns and cities across the world, helping to support successful local economies. Miconex developed the UK’s first city-wide gift card program in Perth, Scotland, through its Town and City Gift Cards initiative in 2015. This program is designed to lock in money locally for participating businesses, drive foot traffic and stimulate economic activity, in effect creating a local currency through the Visa network. In 2018, Miconex launched Mi Rewards, a loyalty program that automatically rewards consumers for spending money at registered businesses in a specific local economy, encouraging consumers to spend more in their town or city. The data and insights provided through Mi Rewards generate data and insights to help towns/cities and participating businesses to better understand customers, customer behaviour and to drive loyalty.

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