Politics 6 February 2013 Amazon introduces "Amazon Coins" for some reason A new currency, in case you don't already have enough currencies. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML Amazon is launching its own currency and I'm not entirely sure why. The company announced the creation of "Amazon Coins" with the intention that they be used for microtransactions on Kindle Fire apps and games. One Amazon Coin will be worth exactly one cent, and to incentivise developers to include the currency, Amazon will be giving "tens of millions of dollars" worth of coins to US customers when they're launched. Amazon will take a 30 per cent cut of all transactions using Amazon Coins, as it does with sales on its store. It's not really clear why Amazon feels the need to do this, however. The company has built up an incredibly comprehensive database of payment information from customers — a market advantage shared by Apple — and has always apparently been happy stomaching the credit card fees that eat away at micro transactions normally. That is the normal reason for requiring an alternative currency, because it ensures that people spend their money in multiples of some large amount — in effect, it imposes a minimum spend of the smallest possible top-up. Similarly, some companies also like the advantage of controlled currencies in abstracting away the true cost of purchases. Microsoft Points, for example, are the currency used by XBox Live. An 800 points card costs roughly £7.99, but a 2100 points card costs £16.87. As a result, it's hard to keep track of your spending on the service. Is a game costing 1500 points a good deal? A bad one? Sometimes the maths get tricky. Yet 1 Amazon point is 1¢. So that can't be the reason. All should become clearer once the company launches and things like developer restrictions and purchasing practices are announced. But for the time being, we just have to wait and see. › Labour and Lib Dem MPs who voted against gay marriage: full list Photograph: Getty Images Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles The 5 things the Tories aren't telling you about their manifesto Taking back control... in the workplace John McDonnell wants to defend pensioners - but will they return the favour?