What could be better than a plastic card to buy things with? How about a card that has your purchases already paid for? Dan Kramer with Shazam, a regional A-T-M network, says gift cards are exploding in popularity. Nearly 1,700 financial institutions do business with the Shazam network, and he says 250 use the net for processing their credit, debit, Electronic Benefit cards and gift cards, so Shazam has a new product to help them. Kramer says nearly one in ten purchases this past holiday season were done with gift cards. He says the average consumer now buys three gift cards a year, and uses them two-point-8 times, and financial institutions have seen a “huge increase” in such prepaid transactions. Gift cards are tremendously popular in Europe, Kramer says, and prepaid cards that are “reloaded” with money so they can be used again and again.