Redefining Virtual Currency

Redefining Virtual Currency – Yankee Group – May 2013

 Virtual currencies are frequently used by consumers as a means of exchanging value, whether they realize it or not. In fact, many of the media of exchange we use outside of traditional currencies like cash are actually virtual currencies. For instance, commonly used items such as credit card points, air miles and coupons are virtual currencies, given that they’re a proxy for value. Even time and personal data, when bartered to receive something in return, are virtual currencies.

While the virtual currencies market is clearly multifaceted, it’s also lucrative. Yankee Group estimates the virtual currencies market to have been worth U.S.$47.5 billion in 2012, and we project it to grow 14 percent during the next five years to reach U.S.$55.4 billion in 2017. Undeniably, this is a sizeable and growing opportunity.

According to a February 2013 Yankee Group survey of more than 2,000 mobile device owners, there is a clear interest in and familiarity with using all types of virtual currencies. Device owners are using virtual currencies frequently, and they are quite comfortable in doing so. Of particular interest for device owners is using virtual currencies to obtain the digital content, such as apps and app-based coins and tokens, they value so dearly.

Interestingly, the proliferation of the mobile device has been instrumental in fueling the growth of existing virtual currencies while giving life to new areas—namely the use of time and personal information exchanged for digital content. Marketers are quickly realizing that by adapting their initiatives to the mobile channel and leveraging virtual currencies, robust and meaningful engagements with device owners can be realized.


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