Consumers now may exchange value from 131 merchant gift cards for a virtual currency under a partnership Plastic Jungle has struck with InComm's Zeevex.

Zeevex's online currency is usable for payment toward online games and other digital environments, including Rings of Orbis and Woozeworld. InComm, which markets and distributes prepaid cards, acquired Zeevex in March 2010. In February, Plastic Jungle teamed with InComm to boost transaction speed and available gift card options.

Through the partnership, online gaming and digital-content publishers may leverage funds from hundreds of retailers when a consumer turns a gift card into Zeevex currency through Plastic Jungle. The partnership also enables those without an established bank account or credit card to buy digital goods.

Though consumers may exchange merchant gift card value for Zeevex virtual currency, they cannot transfer Zeevex value to a merchant gift card account–at least not yet, Bruce Bower, Plastic Jungle's CEO, said in a July 23 interview.

"We see this as an evolution in our model, and it will be able to support in the future much more robust exchanges with the various type[s] of currencies that can be part of the platform," he said.

Gift card value exchange rates vary by card brand and on the gaming currency, Bower said. Plastic Jungle plans to work with InComm to study the rates and may make adjustments so they are more optimal for consumers, he said.

In May, San Mateo, Calif.-based Plastic Jungle, which works with about 400 merchants in its gift card exchange program, said it was is in talks with an undisclosed number of merchants about plans to offer its services directly through their stores and websites.

In March, U.S. Bancorp gave its FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature cardholders the ability to turn unwanted gift cards into FlexPoints through a partnership the issuer struck with Plastic Jungle.

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