New program helps students get the gifts they want

Have you ever received a gift you didn’t want and weren’t able to return it?

With FriendGift’s latest beta test, FriendPay, unwanted presents may no longer be an issue for college students.

FriendPay allows users to choose items they’re interested in from participating companies and friends and family members can contribute towards the “wish list” each user creates. The user can see who’s contributed, but not the monetary amount that each person gives.

Items found on FriendPay are the result of direct partnerships between FriendGift and major companies — the “gifts” available are what are popular now, including iPads and smartphones. When you purchase an item, it’s shipped directly from the company — for example, Apple Inc. — Itself.

Rob Carpenter, FriendPay’s founder, said the idea behind creating FriendPay was the amount of virtual shopping carts that are abandoned before the user makes a purchase.

About 60% of online shopping carts are abandoned because the user can’t afford to complete the purchase, Carpenter said. With FriendPay, your friends and family can chip in to help you get what you want.

Aside from being able to give the amount they feel comfortable with, donors have a bonus incentive to use FriendPay: Each time you give money toward a friend’s gift, you’ll receive a reward too, usually a discount code to use on a future purchase.

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FriendPay offers a points-based system, so if you’re giving friends and family multiple gifts, you can let your rewards build in order to earn a bigger reward. You can use that reward toward purchasing something for yourself or toward someone else’s gift registry. Those rewards aren’t only discounts and products — other points options include vacation packages and tickets to live entertainment events in your area.

Once you choose an item you want on FriendPay and create a gift registry, you have 30 days to collect donations from your friends and family toward the purchase. After that month, you can either choose to complete the purchase and pay the remaining amount yourself or to save the amount of their donations as a FriendPay gift card to use on a future purchase.

The FriendPay system is ideal for college students to use on occasions when others are already planning to buy gifts, such as birthdays, graduations or travel. It benefits students because they’ll get what they really want or need and it benefits friends and family because they’re earning a reward for a purchase they were already planning to make.

While there are not currently any FriendPay promotions or discounts specifically for students, Carpenter said they were “very open to making there be more of a discount for contributors, particularly on the rewards side.”.

The FriendPay site is still in its beta stage and Carpenter expects more companies to join the program as its popularity increases.

“The new website will be multi-store — you’ll be able to list items from other websites by copying and pasting the link,” Carpenter said.

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Though the program is not limited to college students, Carpenter said the company’s target audience is the 18 to 35-year-old demographic. And with featured brands like Apple Inc., Swatch and HP, FriendPay knows what young people want to buy and receive.

“It’s a newer wave of smarter shopping, especially for people our age,” Carpenter said.

Meghan DeMaria is a Spring 2012 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent. Learn more about her here.

This story originally appeared on the USA TODAY College blog, a news source produced for college students by student journalists. The blog closed in September of 2017.

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