In a previous post, titled, "Facebook's 'Open Graph' Targets Google Ad Dollars," I half-heartily hinted at the possibility of "Facebucks" becoming a new currency to be established by the world's number one social network. And today, I'm here to tell you that my off-the-cuff attempt at humor is becoming a reality! The Facebook Mint is ready to print their own money, and dissimilar to the Federal Treasury, I think they'll be running in the black from day one!
The only error in my prediction was the currency name. Facebook has chosen to go with the tamer descriptor of "Facebook Credits" vs "Facebucks!"
By entering your credit-card or bank-account data just once - you will be able to build an account of Facebook credits. These credits can then be used as an virtual currency to purchase virtual goods and apps online. In essence, Facebook becomes your banker and you pay them a heavy interest (estimated at 30%) for the use of their virtual-currency system.
While costly, Mark Zuckerberg is selling the idea to developers as a benefit in increasing revenues. This is based on the premise that with the use of Facebook Credits, more users will spend more money as the result of the convenience of a universal currency. According to a VentureBeat interview conducted by Dean Takahashi at the F8 Conference in San Francisco when Zuckerberg was asked if his new monetization program was a lucrative revenue opportunity, the Facebook founder's response sounded like he knew exactly the doubts that the cognoscenti were thinking: "You may not believe me when I say this. We are doing it for the developers."
He went on further to try to clarify his position and to remove some of the sting of appearing to be capitalizing on a major coup for his company.
"But it's not a revenue opportunity anytime soon. Ads are a very good business. (see my related post on Facebook's desire to beat out Google in the "Ad" game.) We are doing this for developers. With credits, it becomes easier for people to buy things across apps. Rather than being locked into one app that has their credit card, they can buy in any app. This is a canonical economics example where it makes sense to have a standard and have just one, or a few, and that ends up being better for everyone."
"There is a lot of overhead for us doing this ourselves. It's a lot of hard work. We don't expect it to be profitable for a period of time. We are doing this for developers."Note the operative words in that statement: "not a revenue opportunity anytime soon," and then later: "don't expect it to be profitable for a period of time."
So if you're reading between the lines, the inference is clear. Zuckerberg is not going to get rich off this scheme tomorrow (like he even needs it to add to his billions), but you can bet that it's a going to be a cash-cow in the not-so-distant future.
The irony is that he's appealing to those same developers he will charge 30% - to actually do the heavy lifting. Since the Facebook Credits program is still in the beta phase, Zuckerberg is appealing to developers to help him integrate the program quickly to "help us make credits a great experience."
So, if you're in it for the experience and don't care about the tariff, by all means contact the "Facebucks"… er, the "Facebooks Credit" team to apply! I, my friend am going to be turning down the coolaid, this go-around!