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In May, Amazon (s AMZN) will roll out its own virtual currency, Amazon Coins, for purchasing apps, games, and in-app content on Kindle Fire in the U.S. To entice users, the company will hand out “tens of millions of dollars in Amazon Coins” for free.
App developers will get their standard 70 percent revenue cut on content purchased with Amazon Coins.
This isn’t Bitcoin: Amazon’s not creating its own decentralized digital currency (yet). Amazon Coins primarily seems like a way to promote Kindle Fire games and get customers to try them for free. The company has recently rolled a number of other features for game developers, including in-app purchases of physical goods. For now Amazon Coins can only be redeemed for Kindle Fire apps and games — though an FAQ notes that “apps and games that are available for sale on both Android (s GOOG) and Kindle Fire will also be purchasable with Amazon Coins.”
Amazon Coins are also not discounted over regular dollars: “One Amazon Coin is worth one cent, so if an app costs $2.99 it will cost 299 Amazon Coins.” It’s unclear how Amazon will sell the coins to users (and how many they’ll have to buy at once) when the free giveaway period is over, though the release says the company will “make it quick and easy for customers to buy additional Amazon Coins using their Amazon accounts.”