DALLAS -- The card processor Paymentech has introduced a program for hotels and restaurants that integrates gift card transactions with credit card processing.

The program, which Paymentech says eliminates the need for extra equipment, handles card design and production, point of sale transaction processing, and merchant reporting. The idea is to let hotels and restaurants of any size introduce gift cards under their brand names at a low cost.

The card industry has been encouraging companies to switch from paper gift certificates to card-based ones. Paymentech says its program stores gift card accounts and transactions in a central database and gives a way for merchants to track transaction activity and outstanding liabilities on the Internet.

The program also provides a 24-hour call center for consumers who want to check their account balances.

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