Virtual gifting worked for Facebook. So hi5 is trying its hand at the virtual economy as well. Today, the hi5 social network is announcing a new gifting application called hi5 Gifts. Similar to a recent application launched by Facebook, hi5 Gifts revolves around holiday-related virtual presents. With an initial offering of 36 virtual gifts, each present will represent a particular world custom or culture. These gifts will be based on holiday traditions and other customs, such as a virtual “Rosca,” a cake that Mexicans eat on January 6th to celebrate Three Kings’ Day.
While it doesn’t appear that hi5 has no sponsor deals for promoting these new virtual gifts such as Facebook has, it does look as though hi5 is trying to expand on some of the idea that Facebook started out with this holiday season, by tapping into several different holidays that occur year-round beyond Christmas.
Along with an ongoing cycle for virtual holiday gifts, hi5 is also reaching out to its global user base by presenting culturally aware gifts. To pay for these virtual gifts, hi5 is also launching hi5 Coins, the integrated virtual currency allowing users to purchase gifts for friends and family.
The thing about introducing virtual gifting to an online social network is that it enables a variety of new potential applications that are tied to a user’s credit card. From applications that allow users to send physical gifts to other users to the integration of other service- or subscription-based applications, hi5 Coins lays the groundwork for the network to become even more of a marketplace and a platform for e-commerce.