LeumiCard is looking to put an end to prepaid paper gift voucher certificates with its launch of Israel's first consumer gift card. The new card, to be offered to consumers beginning in February, is a private label, prepaid card that serves as a plastic gift certificate - replacing the traditional paper certificates, whilst introducing a new consumer payment culture to the country. "The personal gift card offers an elegant solution to people who don't know what to buy, while at the same time giving the recipient the gift of whatever they choose. With time, the gift card market will replace paper gift vouchers and provide an alternative to conventional gift giving," said Arie Heilweil, CEO of LeumiCard. Gift cards can be denominated in various amounts from NIS 100 to NIS 1,000 and allow the recipient to shop at 621 shops around the country. The cards will be sold at 150 sales points including Steimatzky, Hamashbir and video dispensing machines. The prepaid card at stores including Fox, Mango, Hamashbir, Sport Wertheimer, Steimatzky, Zlil music shops and also can be used to purchase tickets at the Beit Lessin theater. The cards are branded with the LeumiCard logo and come in all different designs wrapped in a gift box. The private gift card is a follow-up to LeumiCard's gift card for institutions and businesses such as Zara or Fox, which it launched a year ago. In 2005, LeumiCard issued 225,000 cards generating NIS 35 million. LeumiCard expects sales revenues of NIS 300m by the end of 2006 from both business and private gift cards. Gift cards are an emerging cash and cheque alternative, widely offered in the US and Europe by the likes of American Express and Visa. In 2004, the global gift card market generated $88 billion of which $40b. were recorded in the US and $31b. in Europe. In the US, gift cards have moved to the forefront of the consumer purchasing experience, where approximately two-thirds of consumers bought gift cards in 2004.