Facebook lets friends send gift cards

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 AP PHOTO/PAUL SAKUMA

SAN FRANCISCO–Facebook on Thursday began letting social network members in the United States send friends gift cards for purchases at participating shops or restaurants.

The move came as the world’s leading social network seeks ways to expand how it makes money from its 1.06 billion monthly users, the majority of whom access the social network from smartphones or tablet computers.

Facebook was gradually adding the ability of US members to easily send cards loaded with cash credit at Jamba Juice, Target, Sephora or restaurant chain Olive Garden, according to a blog post.

“Your friend will be notified instantly about your gift, and will receive a Facebook Card in the mail a few days later,” Facebook said.

“As soon as it arrives, your friend can use the card at the retailer you’ve chosen for the amount you’ve gifted.”

Facebook made gift cards reusable, indicating that the California-based company wants them to have homes in people’s wallets.

The social network will be adding mobile phone numbers, along with mailing addresses to its massive database with the option of sending real-time balance updates to phones.

Facebook lost ground on Wall Street Thursday despite fresh quarterly earnings figures showing that it is increasing revenue from mobile with more users now accessing the social network via smartphones and tablets than from personal computers.

The company dropped 0.83 percent to close at $30.98, even after results Wednesday that topped most analyst estimates.

Facebook, which highlighted a growing shift to mobile usage, reported a $64 million profit in the fourth quarter of last year, while revenue grew 40 percent to $1.585 billion.

But analysts expressed concern about news that Facebook expenses jumped 82 percent to $1.06 billion and will keep rising given the company’s plan to hire aggressively and invest heavily in datacenters.

Analysts at Jefferies downgraded Facebook, saying profits may be squeezed.

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