MyPoints Unveils Virtual Gift Certificates

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Loyalty points provider Inc. launched a virtual gift certificate this week. The company hopes the offering will have a viral effect, drawing new members to its database of 16.5 million.

The MyPoints Program Webcertificate is a stored value account that can be e-mailed to friends and family with a personalized message. The amount can be spent like a credit card at any merchant that accepts MasterCard. Members earn points for purchasing the certificates.

The company hopes this program will help draw new members. Nonmember recipients can earn MyPoints by redeeming their Webcertificates through merchants in the MyPoints Shopping Network.

"There's a viral marketing aspect to it," said Geoff Ossias, vice president of corporate relations at, San Francisco. "If nonmembers use it at the site, they can become members and earn four points per dollar spent. The main goal is to provide members with a new product geared for the holidays and other special occasions. The secondary objective is to drive membership."

The certificate can be ordered for instant delivery or sent during the holidays or other special events. For a fee, recipients receive a plastic Webcertificate Shopping Card to spend at offline retailers.

Webcertificate is powered by Ecount, which also created the program. Ecount labels itself as a developer of next-generation stored value products, virtual accounts and electronic payment solutions.

Earlier this year, MyPoints let go of 10 percent of its staff while it foundered and CEO Steve Markowitz resigned. According to Ossias, the "search is still on for a CEO."

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