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Amazon launches Coins, virtual currency for Kindle Fire and Appstore purchases

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Amazon launched its new virtual currency, Amazon Coins, today, giving Kindle Fire users a new way to purchase content in the device's Amazon Appstore and within Kindle Fire apps.

The company said in February that it would debut Amazon Coins this month. Coins correlate directly with pennies — $1 equates to 100 Coins — and to mark the currency's launch, Amazon has given every Kindle Fire owner in the U.S. a free 500 Coins, $5 worth. Kindle Fire owners can buy Coins on Amazon, with discounts of up to 10 percent for bulk purchases.

"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, Amazon's vice president of apps and games.

Amazon Coins don't change anything for people making Kindle Fire games and apps: Developers will receive the same 70 percent cut of revenue that they get from purchases made with real money.