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The Almighty Buck Bitcoin

Amazon Coins and How the Definition of 'Crypto-Currency' Is Getting Too Loose 115

Nerval's Lobster writes "Amazon has expanded support for its Amazon Coins from Kindle Fire tablets to Google Android mobile devices.In its press release, Amazon positioned its e-currency as the ultimate in convenience for customers who don't want their credit-card statements riddled with lots of micro-purchases from Amazon's App Store. Expanding the currency's reach is also a potential win for Amazon, which wants to create an end-to-end ecosystem for app developers. But Amazon Coins' existence could alienate the same demographic that made Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies such a hit. The company tethers the Coins to a user identity, and likely keeps significant records on its crypto-currency ecosystem: who buys what when. That concept is anathema to those online denizens who embraced Bitcoin as a way to make purchases without needing to reveal a real-world identity, or deal with a currency tethered to a central repository; genuine crypto-currency can be used to purchase pretty much anything from a purveyor willing to take it, including—in the case of Silk Road and other online bazaars—drugs and weapons. Indeed, Amazon Coins has more to do with a corporate 'currency' like the now-defunct Microsoft Points than an actual crypto-currency like Bitcoin. But that hasn't stopped some people from getting confused about it."
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Amazon Coins and How the Definition of 'Crypto-Currency' Is Getting Too Loose

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  • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @10:00PM (#46292015)
    The effect transaction fees have on vendors is pretty important, as it lowers the price floor, making smaller transactions more reasonable. Whether or not that's good or not is a different manner, but it's the key behind all this microtransaction stuff.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @10:11PM (#46292073) Homepage

    Yes, there's a whole prepaid purchase industry out there, and whole racks of their cards at most retail outlets. This is just another one.

    Burger King had the most honest description: "Pay now so you can eat later".

  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @10:14PM (#46292091)

    The blog author is... pretty much clueless. Nobody but him is confusing Bitcoins and Amazon Coins, or referring to the latter as crypto-currency.

    Indeed. This is all nonsense. The summary says: "But Amazon Coins' existence could alienate the same demographic that made Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies such a hit." Yeah... and?

    The people who use Amazon coins are generally tethered to a locked-down Amazon product (like a Kindle) and want the convenience of buying something for $1 without having to run through a credit card authorization or whatever every time. (Plus, Amazon apparently gives out bonus "coins" in various scenarios.)

    Cryptocurrency users want to... well, use a currency to make financial transactions in the real world (not fake internal Amazon transactions). And some of the biggest advocates are people who want to avoid tracking and such. I sincerely doubt they are going to confuse Bitcoin with an internal bookkeeping token on a locked-down device or something. The fact that Amazon is now offering it to other people who want to buy crap from their app store doesn't change the idea very much.

    No one's being "alienated." The target audiences were and still are two mostly mutually exclusive sets of people. At a minimum, no one except the people who wrote and promoted this story seem confused about how these are for two completely different types of transactions.

  • What a stupid thing. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jtownatpunk.net ( 245670 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @10:30PM (#46292153)

    Who gives half a shit how many line items are on their debit/credit statement? This has all the logic of putting money on a gift card.

    I guess it could be used like an allowance for kids but it'd make more sense to give the kid a pre-paid Visa/Mastercard and drop a fixed amount on it every month. That way they can use it anywhere instead of just at the one or two places where some proprietary currency is accepted.

    The whole thing smacks of Itchy and Scratchy Bucks.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @10:35PM (#46292177) Journal
    This is my understanding of the validating process of the bit coins:

    Bitcoin blocks are Sha checksums of transactions digitally signed. Blocks have the check sum of the previous block in the chain. Bitcoins contain complete transaction record going all the way back to the original bitcoin that started that chain of transactions. But if Alice buys drugs from Bob and given a bit coin forever there is a transaction recorded that Alice gave so many bitcoins to Bob. The transactions are between cyber entities and it is difficult to decode the block, find the cyber identity and then link it to a real identity. But all claims of anonymity is based on the level of difficulty in decoding the blocks to get the cyber accounts and linking them to real life. Not based on any notion of mathematical impossibility or secrecy.

    Is it anywhere close to being right?

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen