Facebook has announced that its virtual currency “Facebook Credits” will be available in the UK, with gift cards for the new currency available in Game and Tesco stores.

Facebook credits can only be used on virtual objects, such as in games, and can also be collected through many applications in the same way that air miles are earned. More than 200 apps and games currently accept the credits and 22 of the 25 Facebook apps use them. Farmville, Facebook’s most popular game, is one of more than 50% of games to adopt the currency.

Deborah Liu, manager of product marketing for Facebook Credits and games at Facebook said that although Credits could currently only be spent on Facebook.com, their reach could expand beyond the main site using Facebook Connect, which allows users to login to other sites with their Facebook ID.

Ms Liu added that offering gift cards gives parents peace of mind in what their children are playing online, while also allowing children freedom to spend credits where they wish. The use of retailers such as Game and Tesco is intended to to give small developers who sign up to use Credits a wider reach into a new source of income.

The so called “digital goods economy”, is thought to generate hundreds of millions of pounds per year and is now focused in the UK and US on digital gifts as well as screensavers. In other countries users can sometimes also exchange their virtual currency for real money.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com