Digital vs Plastic Financial Rewards

ProofPilot has more than 90 financial reward partners in 23 countries and six currencies. They range from generic rewards like Amazon and Visa gift cards to rewards that would be more specific to a particular audience (like Sephora for women or Electronic Arts, for gamers).

All ProofPilot gift cards are e-cards, meaning that they are electronic. The electronic value code is stored in the ProofPilot application and available for use whenever the participant wants it.

There are many benefits to this electronic approach:

  • Participants receive their reward, and can use it, immediately. This creates a stronger connection between completing a study task and a reward.
  • There are no fulfillment costs or tasks. The reward is made available to the participant immediately via e-mail.
  • There are no lost cards. The reward code is stored in the ProofPilot wallet until the participant would like to use it.
  • The cards can easily be used offline and online. Ever had the magnetic strip on your credit card fail. Or the new e-chip readers not work? The merchant types in your credit card number into their terminal. eCards work the same way. If a user does not have a smart phone, they can be printed off on paper, and also used.
  • Reduced risk. Tangible gift cards have value. It can be risky to store many thousands of dollars of gift cards in one place without the proper protections.
  • Less administrative burden. Cards are sent automatically to participants (that have passed a fraud check). No fulfillment, no accounting. It’s all handled automatically.
  • One less thing in the wallet. Many participants complained of “another piece of plastic” in their wallet. They’ve got their phone with them.
  • A user returns to ProofPilot and your study, reinforcing what the reward was for. 
  • eCards provide more personality than bland research reward cards. 

ProofPilot does not support fulfillment of stored value plastic gift-cards (ie, a research study actually handing a physical card to a participant). We have tried this in the past, and unfortunately, the risks and problems are too high. Many participants complained of lost or never received cards. Others complained the cards they received didn’t work or were otherwise incorrect. In other cases, our customers reported theft of cards by participants or study staff – putting the remainder of the reward budget in jeopardy.

Yes, we’ve made exceptions in the past for organizations that claimed long, successful experience with plastic gift cards. And, as is often the case with exceptions, these exceptions resulted in some of the worst problems.

ProofPilot wants to reduce barriers to research, of course. We also want to reduce risk to the participant, to ProofPilot and to our customer. Therefore, we no longer support studies that provide financial rewards via plastic gift cards.

ProofPilot is experimenting with other electronic techniques to reward participants including providing rewards directly to a participant’s existing credit card or bank account. If you would like to be part of these kinds of pilots, please contact