Amazon is introducing a new virtual currency for users of its Kindle Fire tablet. Amazon Coins
will allow Kindle Fire users to pay for in-app items
and apps themselves, via the Amazon Appstore, and as an incentive to customers, the company will be giving away tens of millions of dollars worth of free coins to US users when the service launches in May.
Existing apps in the Amazon Appstore do not need to make any changes to enable the Amazon Coins, and still get paid the same 70-percent revenue share, regardless if customers choose to pay with Coins or a credit card. Though customers will be able to purchase Amazon Coins, they will not be able to purchase a subscription through Coins at launch. Coins will also be restricted to use within the US at first, but it could spread to other Kindle Fire markets in the future. Aside from being able to give free Coins to customers as an incentive to keep shopping, Coins could also be used to provide parents a way of preventing children from spending too much money on apps and items, by periodically topping up their Coins account.
The move to using a virtual currency follows in the footsteps of gaming systems and social games, though some have moved away from such a scheme. The Xbox currently uses Microsoft Points, but this could change to local currencies if rumors
are true, while Facebook
gave up on its Credits system after numerous social games opted to create their own, game-specific, virtual currencies.