Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy Farmville? Facebook moves to make credits real currency

Forget occupying Wall Street; those protests against the nation's financial institutions might want to set their sights on Facebook instead. The social network has stepped up efforts to turn its own online currency into cold hard cash.
Facebook now requires companies with sites on the social network to only accept payment in Facebook "credits," and takes 30 percent of every transaction. With over 700 million users, the company is making a small mint in their own bank.

"That's a huge user base, so in a way you've seen Facebook develop its own economy here," says Geekwire's Todd Bishop.

Geekwire reports that for the first time the company is expanding its system of Facebook credits to an outside website, Seattle-based GameHouse, Real Networks game division.

"You can imagine it long-term being something you could even use to buy music or videos," says Bishop. Which could make it a major player in processing payments, possibly challenging Pay Pal or some major credit card companies.

Facebook has also begun selling gift cards at supermarkets and other retailers (recently spotted at a Safeway among others.) Bishop says that was a big factor in making Apple's iTunes popular and profitable.

"Because even people who may not be using it themselves could buy for someone else," Bishop says.

"This could become something that really pervades our society in a broader way if people are really as comfortable with it as Facebook and the Facebook partners say they are."

Perhaps instead of Wall Street, the next round of protests will take place in Farmville.

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