Amazon.com Inc. says its new electronic gift card service is less expensive and easier for merchants to manage than traditional, plastic cards.

The Seattle retailer started offering its Amazon Gift Codes on Demand on Friday through its ACI Gift Cards Inc.

Participants in Amazon's corporate gift card program, which lets companies offer Amazon gift cards, can now offer them by e-mail, through a Web page, as a printed receipt, or as a customized plastic card. They can be offered in any denomination.

Amazon said that offering standard plastic gift cards requires a merchant to buy them in bulk in preset denominations, manage the inventory, and store them securely.

"The AGC On Demand service offers a quick and secure way to deliver gift cards and stored value to program participants," Marcell King, ACI's senior manager of corporate gift cards, said in a press release.

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