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First Data’s app helps to “completely rejuvenate gifting,” says Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Group, a Centennial, Colo.-based consulting firm. Consumers who consistently use Facebook now have a more “natural” way to give gifts, he adds.

It remains unclear, however, how much the app will affect gift card sales over the next six weeks for participating merchants, Ablowitz says. “There is plenty of excitement around it this holiday season, and throughout next year we’ll see the excitement grow,” he predicts.

The service also helps to give virtual prepaid cards validity in the marketplace. “Payments innovation always starts with adoption from top merchants,” Ablowitz says.

First Data may have learned from past mistakes, Ablowitz notes. Though the processor has become a leader in supporting gift cards, it was not involved with gift card malls when they debuted about five years ago, he says.

“I don’t think if I’m First Data I’m going to let that happen again,” Ablowitz adds.

Payments Source, November 15, 2010