Amazon Plans to Distribute Amazon Coins

March 8, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. retailer 
[ri-TEY-ler] (n.) – a person or company that sells things to people
Example: Rakuten is Japan’s biggest Internet retailer.

2. virtual [VUR-choo-uhl] (adj.) – existing only in computers and other devices or on the Internet and not in real life
Example: iPhone has Siri, a virtual secretary.

3. currency [KUR-uhn-see, KUHR-] (n.) – a specific kind of money used in a certain country or place
Example: The Japanese currency is called Yen.

4. deposit [dih-POZ-it] (v.) – to put or leave something in a specific place
Example: The bank clerk helped the lady deposit money in her daughter’s bank account.

5. convince [kuhn-VINS] (v.) – to make someone believe that something is true or false
Example: The salesman convinced the customer that she needed the new product.

Read the text below.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has announced its plan to distribute its own virtual currency called Amazon Coins, which can be used in buying apps.

In May this year, Amazon will be giving its customers more than ten million dollar worth of free Amazon Coins, in which one Coin is equal to one cent. Amazon customers can purchase apps and games with the new Amazon coins, in addition to their credit cards.

Parents with Kindle Fires can also benefit from Amazon’s virtual currency.  Right now, parents use a service called Kindle FreeTime that allows children to play and use Kindle Fire. However, Kindle FreeTime bans children from buying anything on Amazon without their parents’ permission. With Amazon’s new virtual currency, parents can deposit a specific number of Amazon Coins in Kindle FreeTime to control the money their children spend on games and apps.

Amazon is convincing app developers that the new virtual currency will increase their profits. In addition, Amazon encourages developers to offer customers the option of paying products with Amazon Coins.

However, some app developers are not convinced that Amazon Coins would improve the current payment system. Kevin Galligan, an android app developer, even said that he does not understand the difference between Amazon Coins and real money.

In contrast, in-game economist Yanis Varoufakis, said virtual currencies can keep customers loyal to a company because Amazon coins are not transferable and can only be used in the same game or company.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think virtual currencies will replace real currency in the future? Why or why not?
·         Would you feel more comfortable buying online items using virtual currency than using a credit card? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, what are the advantages of virtual currencies like Amazon Coin?
·         What do you think are the disadvantages of virtual currencies?


March 8, 2013