Facebook Credits: Moving Towards F Commerce?

13th Jul, 2011

The last few weeks have been kind of important for Facebook’s virtual currency Facebook Credits. It’s now available to purchase in 47 different currencies, from Bolivian Boliviano’s to Chinese Yuan’s (Who know’s, it’s probably even more stable than certain other currency’s too?). On July 1st all virtual games transferred to using Credits as the only in-game currency for Facebook games, thus increasing the reach of the currency offline and it’s importance online. Not so long ago I looked at 5 different uses for Facebook Credits, outside of gaming, these examples weren’t the easiest to come by since Credits are relatively new.

Each of these steps might seem small, but making Credits easier to purchase and increasing the options where people can spend their Credits can only help increase awareness and their attractiveness. Indeed, getting people into a transactional frame of mind when on Facebook, can only aid in the development of Facebook commerce.

Suffering From Awareness & Antitrust issues

However, a recent study by Inside Social Games, amongst 2,000 active Facebook game players only 66% were aware of Facebook Credits. Highest level of awareness being amongst fans in the USA, followed by Asia, Latin America and Europe is just marginally ahead of Africa. Of the 66% who knew of Credits, 51% of those (around 33% of the overall population) had made purchases using them. Several respondents noting they had only used free Credits allocated to them in a promotional push by Facebook.

Remember this study was conducted amongst active gamers, where Facebook Credits have been available since February 2010. I can only assume this level of awareness is much lower in the average non-gamer on Facebook. This points to a clear lack of awareness of what Credits are, and their widespread use won’t come via a push from Facebook – but a push by brands to integrate them into their sales and marketing. That’s not the only problem facing Credit’s either. An Antitrust suit filed in the USA last month may seek Facebook to loosen it’s monopolistic rules governing payments on the platform. Although Facebook have been steadily increasing their lobbying power in the USA over the last year, scoring a recent success in California over privacy.

It’s Not All Bad News…

If it is going to be brands that help drive awareness of Credits then this week the announcement by the BBC and Channel 5 to accept payments for shows using Credits, is another small, but important, step in the right direction.

Fist up the BBC will make episodes of Dr Who available for fans to watch on Facebook, this is just the first step for the TV broadcaster who will follow in Warner Bros. steps by adding more content. Warner Bros. began by offering The Dark Knight to rent, but have more recently added films such as Inception.

Last year Channel 5 bought the rights to Big Brother, the TV reality show that started it all, the TV reality show that has a lot to answer for. Channel 5 is no stranger to the Facebook platform, last year they embedded their player on Facebook. This new run of Big Brother will integrate a voting app where fans can vote on who should stay or go in the show – fans will have to use Credits in order to vote. Thus shifting some phone revenues to Facebook.

Will Facebook Allow Purchases Without Credits?

There’s an interesting article on Digital Times about the recent Skype integration with Facebook. It states any Skype paid services purchased on Facebook will be done so by using Credits. This will probably extend to other services Facebook will incorporate into the platform – such as Spotify. Not forgetting the countless games and apps already using Credits, will any purchase on Facebook not include Credits? When you consider Facebook earn 30% profit on Credit’s sold, they surely hope Credits is the currency of the future.

will also include all Skype paid for services, be paid for with Credits