Amazon announces virtual currency for use with Kindle Fire, Appstore


Amazon has announced their very own virtual currency for use with their popular Kindle Fire series of tablets and Amazon Appstore. They are calling it — wait for it — Amazon Coins. The virtual coins will enter circulation with the purpose to drive monetization for developers, allowing users to purchase apps, games, and in-app bonuses beginning this May.

For starters, Amazon is giving away “tens of millions of dollars’ worth” of the new currency to spark their virtual economy, but the goal is to get users spending real world cash on the digital dough. It’s a win-win for Amazon and developers. Money stays within the Kindle Fire ecosystem and devs earn the same as they would normally.

Developers have until April 25th to prepare their apps for Amazon Coins. Pricing details and exchange rates have yet to be disclosed.

Introducing Amazon Coins

Coming in May, Amazon Coins is a new virtual currency for purchasing apps, games, and in-app items on Kindle Fire

Amazon Coins is an easy way for Kindle Fire customers to spend money on developers’ apps in the Amazon Appstore, offering app and game developers another substantial opportunity to drive traffic, downloads and increase monetization even further

Amazon will give customers tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Amazon Coins to use on developers’ apps in the Amazon Appstore—apps and games must be submitted and approved by April 25 to be ready when Amazon Coins arrive in customers’ accounts

SEATTLE—February 5, 2013—(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today announced another new way for app and game developers to make money on Kindle Fire—introducing Amazon Coins—the new virtual currency for purchasing apps, games and in-app items on Kindle Fire. Amazon Coins is an easy way for Kindle Fire customers to spend money in the Amazon Appstore, offering app and game developers another substantial opportunity to drive traffic, downloads and increase monetization. When Amazon Coins launches in the U.S. this May, Amazon will give customers tens of millions of dollars’ worth of free Amazon Coins to spend on developers’ apps on Kindle Fire in the Amazon Appstore. Amazon will also make it quick and easy for customers to buy additional Amazon Coins using their Amazon accounts.

Amazon Appstore developers will earn their standard 70 percent revenue share when customers make purchases using Amazon Coins. Developers with apps and games currently in the Amazon Appstore for the U.S. don’t need to do anything with their apps to capitalize on this new opportunity. Developers not yet in the Amazon Appstore should submit their apps soon—only apps submitted and approved by April 25 will be ready when Kindle Fire customers have Amazon Coins to spend across the Amazon Appstore. Developers can learn more about Amazon Coins today at

“Developers continue to report higher conversion rates on Amazon compared to other platforms,” said Paul Ryder, Vice President of Apps and Games for Amazon. “Now we have another new way to help developers reach even more of our millions of customers. Amazon Coins gives customers an easy way to spend money on developers’ apps on Kindle Fire in the Amazon Appstore—and we’re giving customers tens of millions of dollars in Amazon Coins to get started. Developers who aren’t yet in the Amazon Appstore will want to make sure their apps have been submitted and approved by April 25 so they’re ready for customers to start spending their Amazon Coins.”

“We’ve already found that the average revenue per user on Amazon is higher than other Android platforms,” said Keith Shepherd, CEO of Imangi Studios. “We’re very excited about the monetization opportunity with Amazon’s new virtual currency.”

“Everyone recognizes Amazon’s success in the e-commerce world – now the Amazon Appstore has become a major player in the mobile app marketplace,” said Misha Lyalin, ZeptoLab’s CEO. “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.”
“We’ve been extremely pleased with how well our games monetize on Amazon,” said Michael Grobe, Chief Financial Officer of GameCircus. “We’re very excited about the launch of Amazon’s new virtual currency.”

Amazon Coins is the latest in a series of new features and services for developers that make Amazon the most complete end-to-end ecosystem for building, monetizing and marketing their apps and games. Recent announcements include:
· In-App Purchasing for Mac, PC and web-based games, enabling developers to let customers use their Amazon accounts to purchase virtual goods and currencies from games on those platforms

· Game Circle, which includes capabilities like Achievements, Leaderboards, Friends, and Whispersync for syncing games across devices, and leads to better engagement with games

· Game Connect, which lets developers marry the ease and security of shopping on Amazon with the convenience of having virtual goods delivered directly to customers’ game accounts

· A/B Testing, a service that helps developers improve app functionality, retain customers and increase monetization

· Adobe AIR Native Extensions, which makes it simple for Adobe Flash developers to add In-App Purchasing and Game Circle features to their apps and games

· Amazon Mobile App SDK Eclipse Plugin (beta) allows developers to rapidly and reliably integrate Amazon APIs into their Android projects, speeding up development and cutting down on project setup time

Developers can get started at the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal (

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  1. Seems like a lot of overhead will be required for very little benefit. Personally I hated things like Xbox Points, and with Amazon still allowing cash I just don’t see this taking off.

    Obviously there will be some cases this works. (Parents with kids come to mind). But again, I don’t know if it will make enough money to offset the costs.

  2. I think this is being done to avoid the new taxes the government is trying to impose on amazon. It will be unregulated by government.

    1. Actually, it may make it so the consumer pays more. For example, in CA I have to pay sales tax on purchases from Amazon (so I’d have to pay tax on buying Amazon coins), but I would only have to pay tax on in app purchases from CA companies. So for all in-app purchases from companies outside of my home state, I would actually be paying more by using Amazon coins.

  3. Could be interesting if this is not tied directly to the US dollar

  4. How is having to top up in advance with more virtual cash than I’m actually going to spend easier than having my credit card automatically charged precisely the right amount every time I make a purchase?

    1. I guess you could argue that since the actual payment is cleared in advance, the developer can get their money at the moment of purchase instead of waiting for the credit card approval process. Also, since every credit card transaction has fees attached that are (for now) built into the cost of what you purchase, fewer transactions could help keep prices down in the long term.

      It’s not a great argument, but since they’re now allowed to pass on the “swipe fees”, it’s something to consider.

  5. Presumably, developers will have a method for cashing out the coins they earn, but, like with a gift card, purchasers won’t.

    It’s essentially Amazon earning interest on other people’s money. You buy coins, they bank the real money. At some point later, you buy an app. They not only get the cut of the money they’d get anyway if you used a credit card, they earn interest on the full amount you paid for the coins in the meantime. If a consumer purchased $100 worth of coins, the amount of interest would have earned would be negligible to himself, but when Amazon adds it to thousands of other Kindle users, it adds up.

    1. I will note that this is not really different from gift cards, so it’s hard to really object. Gift cards amount to the same thing. The seller has your money before you actually purchase anything and can make additional money off interest and you have buy something from them eventually (even if it’s cheaper elsewhere). Some even expire or people don’t bother when the remaining amount is under a dollar, so the money can be lost.

  6. This is nothing but a money grab

  7. Butters are you charged taxes when you buy gift cards in Cali? Either you will be charged taxes at the time of Amazon Coin purchase or at the use of the coins. You will not be charged twice. Same as gift cards

  8. “Developers continue to report higher conversion rates on Amazon than on any other store”

    WHAT? I don’t think so Amazon. My sales on Amazon are about 1/10 of my sales on Google Play, for the exact same app.

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