January 10, 2012, 2:33 PM

Developers can offer alternatives to Facebook Credits

Facebook is allowing developers to reward shoppers with different currencies.

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Facebook Inc. application developers are no longer required to reward consumers who complete an advertiser’s offers with Facebook Credits. They can now offer users rewards in any currency they like, say Zak Buks in a theoretical game operated by someone named Zak.

Facebook had previously allowed application developers to offer consumers Facebook Credits, the social network’s virtual currency, to consumers who complete advertiser offers, such as signing up for a trial Netflix subscription. The programs offered application developers with an additional source of revenue from users, who might not otherwise pay for virtual currency, wrote Facebook software engineer Abhishek Doshi in a blog post. Developer can now choose to offer between Facebook Credits and any other currency.

One the reasons that Facebook initially began regulating the rewards market by limiting rewards to Facebook Credits was that doing so offered consumers security in their virtual goods purchases. Before that requirement the offers that often brought in the most money were for unscrupulous programs like ringtone subscriptions that a consumer couldn’t unsubscribe from. Now Facebook says it feels secure enough with the two systems developers can use to offer rewards—Offerwall and Dealspot—to eliminate the currency requirement. Offerwall enables an application to present consumers with an interactive list of advertiser offers, while Dealspot’s implementation spotlights a single offer.

Facebook last July began requiring developers to accept Facebook Credits. Facebook takes a 30% cut of all revenue brought in using its virtual currency.

While Facebook Credits can be used in any game, offering a currency tied to a specific game, say Zak Buks, could lead more consumers to complete an offer because they won’t have to figure out the conversion rate between the game’s currency and Facebook Credits.

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