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by Leo Jakobson | August 14, 2014
Payment solutions company First Data is moving to strengthen its digital gift card offerings with the purchase of Gyft, a mobile wallet platform that services more than 200 popular merchants and retailers.

Gyft users can upload existing plastic gift cards, purchase new cards or send cards to others via Facebook, email, or text message. Those digital gift cards can be redeemed online or in person by scanning a bar code or entering a card number. When the transaction is complete, First Data's 300 national retail prepaid clients will be able to use the Gyft platform to digitize their gift card offerings.

"Gyft operates as a comprehensive engine for bulk gift card sales that can be used for incentive marketing and promotions by employers and businesses," says Mark Putman, senior vice president of prepaid solutions for Atlanta-based First Data. "That means merchants can make their cards available for business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales on the platform."

The Gyft platform will also make it easier for small and mid-sized businesses to add mobile gift card capabilities. While the market for digital gift cards is stall relatively small -- 54 percent of consumers have not even heard of mobile gift cards according to a study released in July by the Retail Gift Card Association -- it is growing rapidly. The mount of money loaded onto digital gift cards tripled between 2012 and 2013, according to Mercator Advisory Group. And First Data's own research showed that digital gift card sales grew 71 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Aside from offering digital and mobile gift card solutions, Gyft has data analytics and management tools designed to assist merchants in launching targeted and effective consumer loyalty programs, a social media platform, and a comprehensive engine for bulk gift card sales that can be used for incentive marketing and promotions by employers and businesses.

"Coming in 2015, we will be adding technologies that retailers can use to drive incentives with targeted mobile strategies," Putnam adds.