Amazon this morning rolled out its new Amazon Coins virtual currency for users of its Kindle Fire tablets — letting them use the coins to buy apps, games and in-app items such as song collections, recipes and extra game content.
But the big question is where Amazon will take the currency from here. In a news release, one of the company’s executives signals much bigger ambitions.
“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,” said Mike George, vice president for Amazon apps and games, echoing one of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ favorite lines.
Could Amazon ultimately accept virtual currency across its traditional online retail store? MIT Technology Review dug into that topic in February. “The narrowness in scope is purely a decision,” Edward Castronova, an associate professor at Indiana University, told the site. “If they’re going to do this in this narrow area, they have the technology and the functionality to do it for everything.”
Purchases of virtual items using virtual currency aren’t taxed, but if Amazon pushes further into this area, it could attract regulatory scrutiny and a push for taxation, the site reported.
Amazon first announced the plan for Amazon Coins in February, leading up to the rollout today. Every Amazon Coin is worth one U.S. cent. The company says it deposited 500 free coins ($5) in the account of every Kindle Fire user today.