February 6, 2013

Amazon creates its own currency


Amazon’s new dedicated currency, the Amazon Coin

Amazon announced yesterday that it’s one step closer to officially taking over the world, when it disclosed the launch of its own dedicated currency. The newly minted virtual money will be known as Amazon Coins, which will be available for use by Kindle Fire users beginning in May.

When the new system is released in the spring, Amazon says that they’ll be giving away “tens of millions of dollars worth of Coins,” which can be used to buy Kindle Fire apps, games, and in-app items. Customers aren’t obligated to use them; they can still use a credit card if they prefer. While Amazon’s announcement doesn’t specifically mention the cost of coins once the free ones run out, NBCNews.com reports that they’ll be a penny apiece. The NBC News story also makes the case against virtual currencies like this (Facebook, for instance, quickly moved away from the Facebook Credits system it implemented in 2011), pointing out that “virtual currencies have never been very popular among customers, usually because of the hassle of having to buy packs of them and then having lots left over.”

On the other side of the equation, for companies that offer apps, Amazon has promised that there’s no need for an integration process, and they’ll continue to get the same revenue (70%) from apps available through Amazon. The app developers will just have to get any updates submitted and approved by April 25 in order to ensure that things will go smoothly once Kindle Fire users are able to start cashing in their coins.

Time will tell if Amazon is able to make its currency work, and if it does, who knows what will follow? Maybe they’ll start flying an Amazon flag, or petition for membership in the United Nations.



Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.