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Amazon reveals Coins - a virtual currency for Kindle Fire

Amazon has unveiled Coins, a new virtual currency for purchasing apps, games, and in-app items on the Kindle Fire.

The retail giant said it will launch Coins in the US this May, but did not provide an exact date. When the new virtual currency system launches, Amazon promised to give customers "tens of millions of dollars" worth of free Coins.

Customers will still be able to purchase Kindle Fire apps and games as they do now, but will have the option to pay with a credit card or using Coins. Users will be able to buy Coins through their Amazon account.

Amazon said that Coins will provide new opportunities for developers, who will earn the standard 70 per cent revenue share when customers make purchases using the virtual currency. Developers with apps and games already in the US. Amazon Appstore don't need to do anything to take advantage of the Amazon Coin system. New developers who want to get in on the action must have their app submitted and approved by April 25 for it to be ready when Amazon Coins arrive in customers' accounts.

"Developers continue to report higher conversion rates on Amazon compared to other platforms," Paul Ryder, vice president of apps and games for Amazon, said in a statement. "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."

In its statement, Amazon cited several developers who touted their success in Amazon's mobile app marketplace.

"We've already found that the average revenue per user on Amazon is higher than other Android platforms," Keith Shepherd, CEO of Imangi Studios - which makes Temple Run - said in a statement. "We're very excited about the monetization opportunity with Amazon's new virtual currency."

At launch, only US customers will be able to buy and spend Coins. Users will not be able to purchase subscriptions using the virtual money.

Developers who want to learn more can check out Amazon's Mobile App Distribution Portal.

The move comes at a time when other companies have phased out the use of virtual currency. In October, Microsoft confirmed that it will be phasing out the use of Microsoft Points in Windows 8. In June 2012, meanwhile, Facebook announced plans to ditch its Credits platform in favour of local currencies and allow app developers to offer in-app subscriptions.

Last month, Amazon announced plans to extend its in-app purchasing service — already available for the Kindle Fire and other Android devices — to cover Mac, PC, and web-based gaming platforms.