A Perth tech firm believes its community schemes which encourage people to spend locally could be a vital tool to help recovery after Covid.
Since developing its first gift card programme in Perth in 2015, Miconex is now operational in more than 40 cities and towns.
The programmes have recorded around £1.5 million in sales with more than 6,000 participating businesses registered.
Its latest schemes, in East Ayrshire and Southport, have 80 and 60 businesses as participants respectively.
Managing director Colin Munro said: “The pandemic has caused a significant change in customer behaviour – 62% of people have been shopping on their local high street during the pandemic and 70% of those who shopped locally will continue to do so.
“Local authorities and business improvement districts want to make this a permanent change in behaviour, presenting a viable alternative to online gift cards like Amazon and Apple that take spend out of the local economy.”
He said Miconex was set to launch a further eight programmes in the next two months.
Its schemes work like local currency through the Mastercard network.
“Recipients of the gift card spend it with local retailers, which drives footfall, supports local businesses and stimulates economic activity,” he explained.
The business also offers a Mi Rewards initiative, which automatically rewards customers spending money in selected shops with points that can be used for rewards such as cashback or discounts.
“Small local businesses have progressed more in the past three months than they have in the last three years because they have been forced into this position where they have to bring in new revenue streams,” Mr Munro added.
“We make it easy for small businesses to start getting redemptions from customers, with a single registration and no ongoing commitment.”
Mr Munro believes the UK government can further support the high street by raising the tax free gifting limit to £500.
“Another trend we’re seeing is for employers to use gift cards to reward staff and with our programmes they can support their local economy,” he said.
“At the moment, any reward over £50 given by an employer is subject to tax through the HMRC trivial benefits allowance. By raising this to £500, the government could stimulate spend where it is most needed, on high streets up and down the UK.”