Giftly: Gift Cards, Sans Card

San Francisco-based Giftly, which launched last month, is a new way to give gift certificates. The web-based company allows buyers to give gift certificates redeemable at up to three separate locations. The best part? No cards, paper scraps, or e-mails to keep track of. Put simply, after a receiver is notified of their Giftly, they choose where they prefer to redeem it, spend the amount gifted, then log into Giftly’s website and with the click of a button the company puts the amount directly into the recipient’s bank account.

So what does that mean for us here in Boston? A Giftly can essentially be used at any retail location in town of the gifter’s choosing — without the need to purchase a gift card directly from that business. Which means that once the snow storms hit, as they most certainly will, you can do all your Christmas gift certificate shopping this year without even leaving the house. Plus, they never expire — unlike “real” gift cards.

Tim Bentley, CEO and Founder of Giftly answered a few of our pressing questions:

What inspired you to launch Giftly?
My folks live in a beautiful little town in Vermont, and every year it bothered me that it was so hard to send my mom a really great gift. I thought that this had to be a common problem. People are so spread out these days, and everyone wants to send great presents that they know people will love. But gift cards are impersonal. People forget them in drawers and merchants are incentivized to make them unpleasant, since they keep any money that’s not redeemed. I wanted to create something that made personal, customized gifts fast, fun, and local, and I wanted to make sure no one ever lost money on an unused gift.

How does a business decide to become a part of Giftly?
At the moment, businesses don’t have to get involved. If you make a Giftly for your friend Jane, she just checks in at the place you chose on her smartphone and Giftly sends her the money. She pays the business like she normally would, and doesn’t even need to mention Giftly. Lots of people love getting gift cards but hate using them. At restaurants, it can complicate tipping and seem weird on dates. We think not involving the business makes it smoother for customers.

How does redeeming a Giftly on a smartphone work?
Just open up your browser on your smartphone, go to, and sign in. You’ll be walked through the rest, but it’s pretty simple: click “Redeem” on the Giftly you want to use. This checks-in at that business and we know you’re they’re; the money is then sent to you immediately, arriving in most bank accounts in 1-2 days.

Let’s say you get a Giftly for $50 that could work at 3 different places. Could you use $25 in one location and $25 at another?
Right now, all the money is pushed when you check in. But we are going to add this functionality in the not-too-distant future.

What if you lose the card or delete the e-mail?
You can always contact Giftly, or sign into the website to see all the Giftlies you’ve ever sent or received. Also, if the buyer sees you haven’t used it after a while, they can “nudge” you so you’ll have a new email reminder. We are determined to not keep forgotten money!

Is there a focus on trying to include local businesses over corporate ones?
We don’t want to tell people where to shop or what to give. Lots of folks love Home Depot. That said, Home Depot has a gift card program, and you can buy corporate gift cards at the supermarket. We want to make is easy to give people experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise. And while we love local, ultimately we love choice even more.