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Facebook makes foray into gift-card arena

MENLO PARK, Calif., Feb. 1 (UPI) — Facebook has announced it will sell gift cards redeemable in the real world at retailers such as Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora and Target.

The social media site is targeting a multibillion-dollar business with the preloaded cards, an expansion of its Gifts program.

During a conference call with analysts to review fourth-quarter financial results, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the company is still figuring out its gifts and retail business.

Investors hope Facebook can get a foot in the door in commerce, but Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria said told the Los Angeles Times the company faces a tough road.

“There are many products in these categories [gift card and reloadable prepaid cards] issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express that have more flexibility in where you can use them and where you can reload them, so Facebook is getting into a very saturated space with a limited offering at this point,” Luria said in an email.

The cards can be sent to Facebook friends through the site’s Gifts program. Once a card is purchased, the friend is alerted and will receive the card in the mail.

Users can keep track of the balance online or through Facebook mobile apps.

The program is being rolled out gradually, and currently is only available in the United States.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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