Amazon has made the next step towards making the app ecosystem on its Kindle Fire tablets even stronger. Today, the company announced a new kind of virtual currency called Amazon Coins. Amazon Coins can be compared to Facebook Credits because it allows you to purchase apps, games and in-app items with a centralized currency that only Amazon sells. Any developer that doesn’t already have an app available in the Amazon Appstore has until April 25 to submit their app so it can be ready for the launch of Amazon Coins. Customers will be able to use Amazon Coins in May.
Each Amazon Coin is equal to one cent. A $0.99 app will in turn cost 99 Amazon Coins. Customers will be able to buy these coins in bulk and can use them in place of the credit card that’s already associated with their Amazon account. Although most apps and in-app purchases can be made with Amazon Coins, subscriptions can’t be purchased with Amazon Coins. This currency will also be limited to U.S. customers when it launches.
Amazon says Amazon Coins won’t interfere with the way developers get paid. Developers will still get a 70% cut of all purchases regardless of the payment method its customers choose to use. Developers with existing apps don’t have to do anything to enable Amazon Coin purchases. Amazon is handling all of that for them.
Even though it hasn’t been announced, I expect Amazon to eventually begin selling Amazon Coins gift cards at retail. This will give Amazon a way to make money from customers who don’t have or use credit and debit cards.