Amazon.com introduces virtual coins for buying Kindle Fire apps

The Internet retail giant hopes to entice more developers to create apps and more customers to buy apps.

Amazon.com is launching a new virtual currency for purchasing apps, games and in-app items on its Kindle Fire tablet.

The company announced Tuesday that Amazon Coins will be available in the U.S. in May. The virtual currency will allow Kindle Fire users to spend money on developers' apps in the Amazon Appstore.

Developers will earn their standard 70 percent revenue share when customers make purchases using Amazon Coins, Amazon said.

The virtual currency is seen as a way for Amazon to entice more developers to create apps for its platform by getting more customers to buy more apps.

To kick off the program,  the Internet retailer said it will give customers tens of millions of dollars' worth of Amazon Coins  to use on developers' apps. Customers can also buy more coins directly through their Amazon accounts.

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Developers with apps and games currently in the Amazon Appstore for the U.S. don’t need to do anything to take advantage of the new program, the company said. But people looking to submit new apps must do so soon — only apps approved by April 25 will be ready when Amazon Coins become available.

"Developers continue to report higher conversion rates on Amazon compared to other platforms," Paul Ryder, Amazon vice president of apps and games, said in a statement. "Now we have another new way to help developers reach even more of our millions of customers."

Amazon didn't release details of how it will be giving away the Amazon Coins to customers.

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