I'm paying unnecessary tax for donations for couple of my projects so I can validate that this problem exists. The problem in my case is partly regulatory and partly technical,
- Stripe doesn't support non-profit in my country and requires registered business for International transactions. By registering, I'm mandated to pay taxes for each transaction even though it's a donation to an individual.
- Paypal allows International payments to individuals without registration but an account is limited to one brand and so I cannot use it for multiple projects besides it doesn't support domestic payment.
As you've mentioned, Services like Patreon, Buy Me A Coffee just use Stripe or Paypal and doesn't offer much to those who can integrate those payment gateway themselves and so we end-up paying double commissions(I'm tracking that problem here - /problems/313 ).
Donating virtual gift cards as you mentioned may address some of those issues but I see two major riders to being with,
- Collecting payments from donors as virtual gift cards should be absolutely friction-less, Only negligible fraction of our users would even consider donating and if there's any friction even that's lost e.g. Having to buy a virtual gift card first.
- Gift cards cannot be converted to Fiat money, So places where we can use that gift card would be very limited.
But you mention very specific use case of using gift card to cover operating expense of a project which does make sense, e.g. If AWS offers gift card we can use 'Buy me a AWS gift card' on the project. Perhaps there's a need-gap for a service which makes that happen by creating gift cards for common infrastructure services and facilitates purchase of those as a payment host.