Amazon is launching its Amazon Coins "virtual currency" for its App Store in Australia today, which can be used instead of actual cash to purchase apps and games. How do they work and what are the potential advantages for app buyers?
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Amazon Coins launched in the US and Europe in May 2013. We didn't gain access to the Amazon App Store in any form in Australia until that same month and we didn't get local pricing for apps until November of that year, so it's not surprising that we've had to wait a while for them.
While a large part of the audience will presumably be Kindle Fire owners, any Android user can install Amazon's separate App Store app. (Check our detailed guide for the full process.) Note that the Coins only work in the App Store, where you can use them to buy apps or for in-app purchases; you can't use them to buy from any other part of Amazon, so Kindle books or physical products are out.
While there's a potential benefit in using virtual currencies as a way of controlling spending by kids, the main attraction of using coins is the same as using gift cards on other app platforms: the potential to score discounts. Once you spend more than $5 or more on coins, you'll receive a discount:
|# Coins||Face value||Price||$ discount||% discount|
During launch, Amazon is doubling those discounts, so 500 coins costs $4.60. That 20% discount on larger buys brings it closer to the discounts we regularly see for Google Play and iTunes gift cards.
If you're a regular user of the App Store, then stocking up might make sense -- though Amazon is also giving existing local App Store users 500 coins as a "thank you" launch promotion.