Australia is emerging as one of the fastest growing markets for gift cards in the world. Popular in both the US and UK, gift cards are now a standard offering from any major brand retailer.

But if the US and UK experience are anything to go by, the biggest trend we will see in gift card sales will be towards Visa branded prepaid gift cards. These are the ultimate gift cards and you are not limited to where you can spend them. A Visa gift card allows you to spend the value on that card anywhere you see the Visa logo including retail stores, telephone shopping and even online shopping.

To date, these Visa gift cards could only be purchased online with five to seven days delivery. Not particularly practical if you’ve forgotten a birthday or need an emergency gift. This all changed early this month when the first ‘instant issue’ Visa gift cards were offered for sale in Quix (Mobil petrol) convenience outlets. ‘Instant issue’ means you can pick a Visa gift card off the shelf, load with value and simply walk away, all in a matter of minutes.

e-pay, a provider of prepaid products such as mobile recharge, began the roll-out of their Visa gift cards across the country early this month. After a much anticipated launch this is a huge success for e-pay as they become the first company to launch an instant issue Visa gift card into the Australian market.

“Following the gift card trends we have seen in the US this product is definitely going to change the entire pre-paid market,” says e-pay’s managing director Gareth Gumbley.

“The Pre-paid marketplace has traditionally consisted of mobile top-ups, calling cards and more recently products like internet and music. Pre-paid Visa cards are just the first of many products we plan to launch that will expand the range of products currently available,” says Gumbley.

Pre-paid gift cards make great gifts as they can be used to make purchases just about anywhere Visa is accepted.

“It’s a great gift. Who wouldn’t love a gift card they can spend on whatever they like? It makes choosing gifts easy because you can’t go wrong”.

The prepaid gift card is perfect for businesses looking for corporate gift ideas and is great for those people who want to shop online but don’t have a credit card or don’t want to use their own credit card.

e-pay is rolling out its e-pay Visa gift card as part of their new pre-paid store category, so keep your eye out as they start to appear into other petrol/convenience and newsagent chains across Australia.

“In addition to the launch it is fantastic news that we had our first independent transaction only an hour after the first cards were on the market,” adds Gumbley.