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Uptown Waterloo Upgrades its Gift Card System

The popular Uptown Dollars program in Waterloo has had an upgrade as part of ongoing efforts by the Uptown Waterloo Business Improvement Area (BIA) to keep money in the Uptown core and provide support for local businesses.

Augmenting the old paper gift certificates, the new Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card works like a debit card and can be spent in person and online with multiple businesses Uptown including retail, hospitality and services.

The Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is available to purchase in $5-$500 amounts, either online with delivery direct to the recipient, or from the Uptown Waterloo BIA office.

Tracy Van Kalsbeek is the Executive Director at the BIA and says the new Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is the natural progression of the program: “The idea of supporting local is a message that our community has heard loud and clear. Thanks to our residents, Uptown Dollars has been a great success in Waterloo, and the Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is the next step in the evolution of the program, making it even easier to buy and spend with local businesses.”

Tracy adds: “Businesses are still very much in the pandemic recovery phase and we need to continue to be there for them. The Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is a great option for gifts, and for employers to buy for their staff so they can show their support for local.”

Uptown businesses are keen to start accepting the new Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card. Nick Benninger owner of the Fat Sparrow Group, which includes Taco Farm in Uptown Waterloo, says the upgraded program could help to bring in new customers:

“As a business owner, I’ve been honest about how hard the pandemic has been. There have been times when I’ve thought the restaurants won’t survive. Even now, we’re still dealing with the effects of the pandemic. It’s not over by a long shot but we’ve managed to keep going by adapting to the changing conditions and thanks in large part to the loyalty and support of our community.”

Nick adds: “The Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is changing too, modernizing it, making it more user friendly, more accessible, and that has to be a good thing. I think this new version is super appealing and folks will like getting a card instead of paper gift certificates. It’s also easier for business owners as they can accept the Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card just like any other debit or credit card payment and get paid quickly. We’re excited to be part of the Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card, it’s a program that we can all stand behind and I’m confident it will bring new people to Uptown Waterloo, businesses and locals.”

Another business set to accept the new Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is Loop Clothing, located in the heart of Uptown Waterloo. Alnoor Keshvani is the owner of Loop:

“Loop specializes in streetwear brands from around the globe, with a quality over quantity approach. The pandemic was the catalyst for me to switch the Loop business model to offering a fully curated shopping experience, by appointment. Our inventory is also available online. One of the effects of the pandemic is that people are placing greater value on experiences and see the value in paying for a personalized service and a unique shopping experience in a safe environment.”

Alnoor adds: “As we move towards a cashless society, it makes sense to upgrade Uptown Dollars to a modern Gift Card system. The new Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is seamless for us as a business as it links straight to our sales points. A lot more people will be able to use the Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card too as it’s both easy to acquire and easy to use, and that will help us in our goal to gain more customers. When people shop locally, it allows our communities and cities to grow. That means businesses can invest more locally, and put more back into the community. It’s good for everyone.”

The technology for the Waterloo Gift Card is provided by fintech Miconex in association with international payments technology solutions provider EML Payments.  Miconex operates its Downtown Gift Card concept across Canada, the US, the UK and Ireland, with existing programs in Peterborough, Sudbury and London.

The Uptown Waterloo Dollars Gift Card is issued by PACE Savings & Credit Union Limited. Card funds are not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) or any other government deposit insurer or agency.