Purchasing a Card

To help you understand how our digital services work and what they do for you and your customers, let’s take a look at a typical gift card purchase scenario to see what’s involved. The scenario represents the roles that distribution partners, content partners, and consumers play when they use the Blackhawk Network, even though all are fictional.

Jane Purchases a Gift Card

Jane signs in to Money On the Go, a mobile app for purchasing and managing digital cards built by a Blackhawk Network distribution partner. She decides to buy a $50 gift card from Putamayo, an online books and hard goods retailer. Money On the Go has all Jane’s information, including her email and credit card number, so when she makes a purchase, the process is completed in one step. She confirms the payment information, reviews her checkout basket, and submits her order.

Almost immediately, she gets an email providing details of her purchase and providing her a link for viewing her eGift. Since it is a self-gift, she can also find the gift card in her Money On the Go app. To view the gift card in Money On the Go, she taps it, enters her security PIN, and then sees a digital representation of the gift card with the card's number and PIN, which she can use to redeem it online or at a retailer location. The barcode displays next to the card number and PIN, which can be scanned at a retailer’s POS.

What Happened?

Here’s what happened during the few seconds it took to deliver the $50 Putamayo gift card:

  • First, before Jane even logged in to the app, Money On the Go had retrieved (using the Blackhawk Network APIs) a set of unique numbers that identify each product displayed for sale – that is, the cards it carries in its product catalog. Each product (or gift card) has its own activation denomination, which is either fixed or variable. In Jane’s case, the Putamayo card carried a fixed $50 denomination.
  • All brand and product information Jane sees in the Money On the Go app about Putamayo has been retrieved via a batch process via our APIs prior to Jane selecting the card she wants.
  • When Jane chooses to purchase a Putamayo gift card, Money On the Go sends a request to activate a new gift card to Blackhawk Network. The request includes the Putamayo product configuration and amount to activate on the gift card
  • Assuming the request is valid, Blackhawk Network transforms its contents into a format that can be consumed by the processor who activates the Putamayo gift card.
  • The processor checks to be sure that the card number sent is valid, processes the rest of the information in the request, and then returns to Blackhawk Network a card number and a PIN code that are used for redemption.
  • Blackhawk Network provides the active card number and PIN to Money On the Go.
  • Money On the Go provides Jane with the eGift Application URL to redeem the $50 Putamayo gift card and stores the gift card in the Money On the Go application so she can check its available balance any time she wants.

Blackhawk Network Digital Services provides distribution partners that build applications like Money On the Go all of the above capabilities. Distribution partners take advantage of the exposed Blackhawk Network APIs in order to build applications for their users.

The Services Involved

Here are the services that provide the functionality just described:

  • Product Management, which distributors use to define the individual cards they offer as products
  • Product Line Management, used to group all one brand’s cards together, defining what they have in common (while Product Management defines what’s unique to each product)
  • Product Catalog Management, which defines the entire catalog of card products that the distributor sells
  • Account Processing, which creates an account number to represent the card and then to be used to redeem the card, check its balance, reload it, and perform other transactions
  • eGift Processing, which provides functionality turning a card into an eGift. Blackhawk Network eGifts can be personalized with messages saying who the gift is from and who its for and can be viewed online in multiple formats through the Blackhawk Network eGift Application (Activation Spot)
  • Person Management, used to associate cards with information about the people who purchase them. In this scenario, Money On the Go has Jane's name and other information, which they can store for future use
  • Bag Management, used to add cards to digital wallets or other applications where their users can manage them together the way they would physical credit cards and cash. (“Bags” are simply collections of cards.)

Jane might also decide to buy another gift card and give it to someone else as a gift. If she does that, Money On the Go uses the same services and instead of sending the eGift Application URL to Jane, Money On the Go sends it to the friend she’s giving it to using whatever channel is supported, whether it’s SMS, email, or another digital wallet.

Conclusion, Additional Reading

This scenario describes just a segment of the functionality you can build in to your apps with Blackhawk Network Digital Services and the APIs you use to call them. To find out about the range of business use cases addressed by the services, see our business tutorials. And to see the details of all our APIs and what they do, refer to our API Reference.


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