The Future of Global Currency? Facebook Credits Now Available in UK

By Eric Barry Comment

Facebook Credits, the popular digital currency used within social gaming on the Facebook Platform, can now be purchased in-person at retailers in the UK, a move that has much broader implications.

Users will be able to purchase gift cards with pre-loaded euro amounts at Tesco and Game stores reports The Telegraph. This is coming on the heels of last week’s addition of Facebook Credits gift cards to U.S. retailers Safeway, GameStop, and RadioShack. Previously, gift cards could only be purchased at Target, Best Buy and Walmart in the U.S. and Canada. Facebook has also offered promotions to buy credits through 7-Eleven and CoinStar.

This is a huge source of potential revenue for Facebook. Accordingly to Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, who spoke at yesterday’s Web 2.0 Summit, Zynga’s gaming base boasts an astounding 320 million users, most using the Facebook Platform. Zynga’s games, which include Mafia Wars, FarmVille, FishVille, and others require the use of Facebook Credits to advance or unlock certain features. Facebook currently takes a 30% cut of all transactions in which Facebook Credits are used.

The strategic timing of Facebook’s unveiling is clear: stocking stuffers. As we get full-swing into the holiday shopping season, retailers are sure to promote Facebook Credits as an open-ended alternative to traditional gift cards that doesn’t require the redeemer to return to the retailer, something many parents may find worth considering. Similarly, the gift cards allow children and those without credit cards to purchase Facebook Credits by using cash.

But it’s the long-term growth potential of Facebook Credits that might be the biggest story of all here. While Credits are currently used exclusively for applications on the Facebook website, Facebook Connect could provide the potential for the currency to be used across the entire web to purchase a variety of goods, lending the brand recognition of Facebook to the retailer as well as providing a more fully integrated e-commerce solution than PayPal. While it may be a ways off, Facebook Credits could potentially be a large step towards a universal online currency.

Will you be giving the gift of credits this holiday season? How would you feel about making online purchases unrelated to Facebook using credits?