Here’s a new idea for a holiday stocking stuffer: a gift voucher for stock.
Stockpile.com is now selling a physical gift card for shares of stock. Not unlike iTunes and retail stores, Stockpile gift cards come in denominations ranging from $25 — $100, and can be purchased on the checkout line of retailers like Kmart and Toys “R” Us.
Once purchased, the receiver then logs online, signs up for a Stockpile Investments brokerage account — and redeems the purchased amount for a fraction of the stock. Stockpile co-founder and CEO Avi Lele sees the site as a way to help democratize investing for retail buyers.
“We’re seeing young people coming in getting gift cards, or coming in on their own, and buying $25, $50, $200 worth of their favorite stocks to start investing early,” Lele told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” in an interview last week. “It’s much better to start [investing] in your 20s than in your 30s or 40s,” Lele said.
Lele said people over 30 are buying the gift cards for people under the age of 30. Shares of Apple, Facebook and Google, which now trades under Alphabet, are the most popular with Stockpile card recipients.
With stocks in the middle of an extended bull run, a wave of new financial products and services are trying to attract new classes of investors. However, Stockpile could have trouble getting the buy-in from one key group of investors — young millennials.
According to a study by Bankrate.com, only 26 percent of adults under 30 are investing in stocks. Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace, said that’s because millennials have a lack of trust and confidence in the market.
“Many are dealing with student loans and focusing more on achieving financial independence from their families right now,” Schawbel told CNBC. “People who are older have more money to invest in stocks and millennials weren’t taught about the long- term implications of investing early rather than later in life.”
Still, some analysts say if marketed correctly, stock gift cards could give the traditional savings bond a run for its money.
“I think there is a great market for this, actually. They now have the grandparent market locked up,” said Monica Mehta, a principal at Seventh Capital.
Mehta said this could be a natural substitute for people who want to give something special, as long as the receiver does not forget about the gift card. “This offers the potential to get people to be more active with equities and be educational,” she said.
CNBC retail analyst Stacey Widlitz believes this has potential to be a great teaching tool, and may be the next category to eat into retail sales.
“As long as the stock market keeps going in the right direction, fueled by global monetary policy, a piece of the stock market might be a more enticing gift as opposed to the ugly Christmas sweater,” said Widlitz.