September 2, 2010, 11:50 AM

Giftango helps mobile app developers deliver retailers’ gift cards

J.C. Penney and Fandango are offering gift cards through mobile apps via Giftango.

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Giftango Corp., which helps deliver gift cards via e-mail and mobile devices, this week launched a platform that enables mobile game providers and other developers to deliver gift cards through their apps.

More than 30 national brands, including J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Fandango Inc. and Cabela’s Inc., have signed on with Giftango to enable app developers to offer their gift cards via apps, says Mike Fletcher, Giftango’s vice president of marketing.

The program is available to any developer of a mobile app, Fletcher says. For example, a mobile game developer might want to offer a $5 gift card when a player reaches a certain level. Other app developers might offer a gift card for filling out a survey or for simply downloading their apps. The program is attractive to merchants because it helps them market their gift cards without having to establish relationships with hundreds or thousands of app developers, Fletcher says.

To use the service, app developers connect to Giftango’s platform via an application programming interface and set up requirements such as that a game player must reach a certain level, or a member of a loyalty program must collect a certain number of loyalty points to get a gift card. Once the Giftango system sees that a requirement is met, it delivers the card to the app user. The card is then displayed on the consumer’s mobile device and can be redeemed in store, online or both, depending on the retailer’s preference. Giftango issues the cards on behalf of the retailer. The retailers are not connecting directly to the mobile application, Fletcher says.

App developers establish an account with Giftango for the gift cards and deposit funds, and then the balance declines as the developers issue cards, Fletcher says.

For the merchants offering their cards, Giftango connects to their gift card processor or the retailer’s own internal gift card inventory to receive a list of card numbers to use. This way, Fletcher says, the Giftango gift card redemption process is the same as it is for the company’s plastic or other gift cards, and merchants don’t have to worry about setting up a new system for delivering cards through apps or new gift card redemption or accounting procedures.

Bricks-and-mortar merchants can choose to key in the card number displayed on the device at checkout or scan the mobile card number. In online retailing, consumers key in the card number when checking out on an e-commerce site.

Fletcher adds that retailers with their own mobile apps can also use Giftango to help deliver and manage mobile gift card programs. If the app developer is a retailer issuing its own cards, a deposit account is not necessary, Fletcher says. A retailer can connect the app to its gift card processor via Giftango, enabling additional delivery options such as e-mail and text and for reporting and tracking of card delivery. Retailers also can use Giftango to manage all of their virtual card delivery—mobile, e-mail and text—through one system.

Giftango makes its money by charging app developers for delivery of gift cards, the process of making the technical connection and verifying that the connection is working correctly, and access to Giftango’s administration tool, Fletcher says. Merchants do not pay to be involved. “We have a few different pricing models, it all depends on what the developers are wishing to accomplish,” Fletcher says

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