By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – The big trend in recent years has been to forgo buying actual presents and just giving loved ones gift cards instead.

Now technology is taking us to the next level, allowing us to skip the plastic altogether and putting the value of the gift card right on someone’s smart phone.

Stores like Starbucks, Target, and American Eagle have introduced mobile gift cards which allow the recipient to pay with just a flash of their phone.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

Babson College marketing professor Glenn Kelley explained, “A lot of retailers are trying to figure out what promotions are really going to register with the consumers.”

The concept is pretty simple.

The gift giver purchases the amount they want to give on line or at the store, creates a gift card account, and uploads the information.

The recipient will be sent a text message alert.

The bar code will appear on the phone’s screen and be available immediately. The value can also be saved for future shopping trips.

Traditional gift cards have been a huge success in recent years.

They have been the number one requested gift item for four straight years.

This year, 57-percent of shoppers plan to buy a gift card compared to 53-percent three years ago.

Retail analysts say the mobile gift card could be the next big thing for consumers.

Analyst James Van Dyke added, “I think this will be year where we prove it out, and people hear about it, and it becomes a thing that just a few people know about. It will be a big thing next year.”

The upsides include not having to carry around a bunch of plastic cards, and always having your phone with you.


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