Amazon Offers Free Coins As It Unleashes Virtual Currency For Kindle
May 13, 2013

Amazon Offers Free Coins As It Unleashes Virtual Currency For Kindle

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

Online retailer Amazon has led the way in getting people to transition from reading “paper” books to e-books on its Kindle and other tablet devices, and now the company may be trying to get people to go from paper money to virtual money. In fact, the online retail giant unleashed the new Amazon virtual currency program to the masses on Monday.

The Amazon Coins, which were unveiled in February, can be used to purchase apps, games and in-app items for the Kindle Fire from the Amazon Appstore. Amazon has touted the coins as being an easier way for Kindle Fire customers to spend money in the Appstore while also offering app and game developers with another opportunity to drive traffic, downloads and increase monetization.

The e-commerce giant is also marking the arrival of the Amazon Coins by dispersing 500 free coins — which is reportedly the equivalent of a $5 bill — into the Amazon accounts of existing and new Kindle Fire customers in the United States

“Today we are giving Kindle Fire owners $5 worth of Coins to spend on new apps and games, or to purchase in-app items, such as recipes in iCookbook, song collections in SongPop or mighty falcon bundles in Angry Birds Star Wars. And with discounts of up to 10 percent when you buy Coins, this is a great way for customers to save money when they buy apps, games and in-app items,” Mike George, vice president of apps and games at Amazon, said in a statement. “We will continue to add more ways to earn and spend Coins on a wider range of content and activities — today is Day One for Coins.”

Amazon will offer discounts of up to 10 percent for purchasing Amazon coins in bulk; providing customers with an opportunity to save money on app and game purchases. To get the 10 percent discount shoppers will have to purchase 5,000 coins for $45, or 10,000 coins for $90.

The Amazon Coins will not expire and do not include any fees. When buying apps and games users will reportedly be given the option to purchase with a credit card or use their Amazon Coins. For developers it is also another way to provide revenue sharing, as Amazon Appstore developers will earn the 70 percent revenue share when customers make purchases with the Amazon Coins.

Amazon moves to a virtual currency just as other companies are phasing out similar initiatives. Microsoft already has began phasing out its Microsoft Points in Windows 8, while Facebook announced plans to shutter its Credits platform in favor of local currencies. The Credits had first debuted on the social network in 2008.

When it was announced in February, Amazon noted that its Coins would be an optional way to pay, but some media outlets have questioned why anyone would want to consider opting not to pay with real cash — even when Amazon Coins bought in bulk could offer a discount.

Ars Technica noted that it is difficult to actually “zero” one´s Amazon Coins, which can´t be turned back into real money and that “from Amazon´s perspective this is fabulous. Every unused Amazon Coin in your account is a little interest-free loan you´ve been kind enough to extend to Amazon.”