Amazon has just debuted its own virtual currency, Amazon Coins, allowing customers to pay for apps on its Amazon Appstore for Android, as well as some in-app items. Kindle Fire customers in the US are the first to get their hands on Amazon Coins, as the company is giving all of them $5-worth of the currency, or 500 coins. But anyone can head to the Amazon Coins page and purchase Coins for themselves.

The e-commerce giant is offering an escalating discount, up to 10 percent for $100 spent on coins, for customers who convert US dollars in bulk into Coins. There are several reasons why launching such a new exchange medium may be to the company's advantage. But many companies have tried their hand at proprietary virtual currencies in the past — from Facebook Credits to Microsoft Points — and none have really taken off in any big way, especially compared to the decentralized virtual currency du jour, Bitcoin. In order to succeed whether others have fallen short, Amazon needs to convince customers that Coins are at least as easy as paying with real money, and it seems unlikely that a bulk discount is enough to do that.