Japan’s largest gift card exchange platform has announced plans to transform the way gift cards are issued, purchased and exchanged with the use of blockchain, in a bid to increase the technology and convenience of the products.

Amaten, which has an annual revenue of $110m, is achieving this through a strategic partnership with aelf, a blockchain network provider and one of only 30 companies to receive certification from the China Electronics Technology Standardization Insitute (CESI) under its Standard Blockchain System Function Test.

The partnership will see Amaten build its blockchain framework on top of aelf, transforming gift cards into digital assets that can be managed and exchanged on the blockchian.

This enables them to be easily traced to the original issuer, combatting fraud, while making it easier for them to be both issued and redeemed.

Blockchain “a natural fit” for gift cards

According to Amaten, the move will provide the first notable technological advancements to the gift card industry in over two decades.

“The current system and technology used for gift card is completely obsolete and dates all the way back to the mid 90s,” said Amaten chairman Tom Kanazawa.

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“It has never evolved to match today’s digital world; it still suffers from basic fundamental shortcomings and is very inconvenient.

“I believe that the gift card industry can be a perfect use case for blockchain. The two are a completely natural fit.”

Disrupting the $340bn gift card industry

The project is designed to significantly disrupt the gift card industry, and make Amaten a major player in the process.

The gift card industry is currently worth $340bn globally, and $21bn in Japan, and the company sees blockchain gift cards as holding significant potential for future advancements.

Amaten plans to initially launch its solutions in its home market, before using the blockchain gift cards to expand overseas, first in Korea and China, but ultimately further afield. And it sees aelf as a key partner in making this a reality.

“We have chosen to partner with the best blockchain technology providers in the space, aelf, because they offer the scalability, dedicated sidechains and smart contract modules that we very much need to build our service rapidly and most cost effectively,” said Kanazawa.

“We are wholeheartedly excited for the future of truly digitized gift card industry.”

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