Amazon to launch virtual currency

Amazon is introducing a virtual currency customers can use to purchase Kindle Fire apps and games from its Appstore.

Amazon Coins

The online retailer says it will give customers “tens of millions” of dollars worth of its virtual Amazon Coins for free to spend on apps in the Amazon Appstore. It will then be converted into real money for developers, who will earn the standard 70 per cent revenue share when customers make purchases using Amazon Coins.

The initiative is designed to offer a new way for app owners - such as brands and developers - to make money through content for Kindle Fire devices and to encourage customers to spend through its app store.

The move is also a way for Amazon to encourage customers and developers to commit to its platform as it looks to take on rivals Google and Apple.

Paul Ryder, vice president of apps and games for Amazon, says: “Developers continue to report higher conversion rates on Amazon compared to other platforms. Now we have another new way to help developers reach even more of our millions of customers.”

Coins has been supported by a number of games developers including ZeptoLab, the creator of games such as Parachute Ninja.

Misha Lyalin, ZeptoLab’s CEO, says: “Everyone recognises Amazon’s success in the e-commerce world - now the Amazon Appstore has become a major player in the mobile app marketplace. Amazon’s new virtual currency is designed to open new opportunities for developers and make things easier for customers. This is a great example of appstore innovation and we want to support it.”

Amazon says its Coins currency helps make it “the most complete end-to-end ecosystem for building, monetising and marketing apps and games”.

The launch follows the introduction of in-app purchasing, which allows customers to use their Amazon accounts to buy virtual goods within games, and a number of functions that let developers integrate Amazon’s shopping features and APIs into their content.

Customers can also buy additional Amazon Coins credits through their Amazon accounts.

Amazon Coins will launch in the US May, but is likely to roll out to other territories.

Facebook launched its Facebook Credits currency in 2011 allowing users to purchase apps and games using it, but has since shifted its strategy to favour real money - a move it says simplifies the experience for users.

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