I definitely understand your frustration...
are you on Shopify Plus?
If so, then the short answer is yes. It still remains a requirement that to access the Gift Card API you need a private App. In our situation we are developing a Private App to host our Gift Card Data(imported) from our old provider to allow for redemption in Shopify, but to also allow guests to check both their Gift Card Balance online as well. Shopify does have certain restrictions, and it is quite hard to pinpoint the proper source for a good and consistent answer.
The noted forum, just confirmed that the API access for this functionality, besides having Shopify Plus as a requirement, also has a firm requirement for a Private App. You could use Rise.ai if that was in your budget, but for us it seems more logical to have our ERP/POS development team build out the API to allow them(Old Card # and Digital Shopify Cards) in our stores. There are of course limitations, but we are doing our best to workaround them without the use of a paid app or service like rise.ai
I’m not on plus and that’s what I’ve told this agent as you can see in my screenshots.
Accumula which is the integration used between my POS and Shopify e-commerce have access once accepted to the api and they can integrate gift cards so I assume they have a private app or whatever it is needed that you are mentioning.
my frustration is that one agent is telling me I need to do this manually and another is telling me that because gift cards have been given on all plans when I signed up to Shopify e-commerce during Covid that I too would have access to the api for this period of time that they are offering gift cards.
As you can see, he has told me to contact the developers to be given access that he has stated is available on my account.
I think, and I may be wrong, that while Shopify has opened up Gift Cards for non-plus members, they have not opened up the Gift Card API for non-plus customers. sorta a conundrum, but it makes sense from their POV
For example, if you develop an app that used this gift card API, what happens when they turn off that access to non-plus merchants? you would be stuck with a large expense and possibly no access. I am not an expert on their rules, but they are pretty clear on their gift card API pages, that it is exclusively Plus....but a lot of things they do, do not make sense(like not being able to check your gift card balance natively.... comes to mind)