E-commerce leviathan Amazon today is taking a step into social gaming: Amazon Coins, its new virtual currency, is now live in the U.S. To kick it off, Amazon announced that it would put $5 worth of the currency — equivalent to 500 Coins — into all Kindle Fire users’ accounts to use on apps and in-app purchases on its platform. The company says that this is equivalent to “tens of millions of dollars” worth of Amazon Coins.
Coins, which were first announced in February, are the company’s move into an area that has been a strong way for app publishers to generate revenue through their apps. In that sense, the launch serves a two-fold purpose for Amazon: a way of encouraging developers to come to its platform (something Amazon has already been working on), and to spur more revenue generation.
A lot of the talk in virtual currency of late has been around the potential for bitcoin and other new monetary instruments fuelled by a network effect. But before bitcoin became the buzz, there were already a number of other virtual currency networks run by Facebook, Zynga and many more, with aim being to spend the “money” on gaming and other apps on their platforms.