US-based start-up Nift has secured $16.5m in Series A funding for the expansion of its artificial intelligence (AI)-based gift card platform over one year.

The funding round was joined by Spark Capital, Foundry Group and Accomplice.

Nift platform is designed to aid discovery of local businesses and is powered by machine learning.

When a merchant provides a loyal customer with physical or virtual card having a unique code, the platform’s algorithms capture the code and match the right local customers with other related neighbourhood businesses.

Cardholders will be able to choose from one of two free gifts from the matched local businesses.

Nift founder and CEO Elery Pfeffer said: “We want to give power back to Main Street businesses and help fuel the growth of local economies by banding these businesses together.

“The social community contract, inherent to the way we shop, never left local merchants. Now Nift is imbuing it with sophisticated machine learning technology to help these businesses get discovered, build affinity, and bring quality customers in the door.”

Founded in 2014, Nift platform was a result of partnership between data scientists and local merchants.

Foundry Group founding partner Seth Levine said: “Nift is providing a way for merchants to deliver the experiences customers want, while fostering a healthy ecosystem.

“The success of the platform illustrates the impact it’s already having in strengthening these businesses and revitalising communities.”