RealTime IT News

Web-Wide Gift Certificates Offered

Philadelphia-based Internet marketing company C/Base is launching a site to offer what it calls Webcertificates, gift certificates that "can be redeemed at virtually every one of the estimated one million online retailers."

Webcertificates can be purchased at and e-mailed to any recipient.

The site will be launched on the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

Webcertificate works much like a paper gift certificate, except that it's virtual. The recipient is e-mailed a personal account number for a set dollar amount that can be used for payment anywhere online, the company said.

The Webcertificate design can be customized by the buyer with a choice of templates suiting the particular occasion (Christmas, holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.). After selecting the design and the denomination of the gift, the buyer enters the name and e-mail address of the recipient, adding a personalized e-mail gift message. The buyer has the opportunity to preview the completed Webcertificate, before paying by credit card. An e-mail receipt is automatically sent to the buyer confirming the name of the recipient and the gift amount sent.

The recipient gets an e-mail message that contains instructions for activating Webcertificate and a hyperlink that launches the recipient to a personal gift page at the Webcertificate site. Upon arriving at the Webcertificate gift page, the recipient enters a personal claim code and is presented with the Webcertificate, which includes the design, the dollar amount and the sender's personalized message. At that time, the recipient is automatically assigned a Webcertificate account number and expiration date, similar to a credit card.

The Webcertificate recipient can use the account number in place of a credit card at any online merchant on the Web, the company said. A shoppers guide of suggested online merchants is available at the Webcertificate site.

"We see Webcertificates as providing ultimate flexibility for the user," said Matt Gillin, president and CEO of C/Base. "It's the only online certificate that buys virtually anything and can be used virtually everywhere on the Web. . . for the 'Web-a-phobic' on your list, it's a way to let them sample the excitement of Internet shopping without any second thoughts about using their credit cards to make purchases."

Webcertificate uses a proprietary system developed by C/Base, whose consulting clients include Microsoft, Netscape, Hotmail, CitySearch and Switchboard.