Amazon follows MiKandi’s footsteps, launches virtual currency

Amazon CoinsAmazon announced today its own virtual currency system called Amazon Coins. In true Amazon fashion, the company is going big by giving away “tens of millions of dollars” when the virtual currency launches in May. Amazon Coins can be used to buy apps, on in-app purchases, and games on the Kindle Fire. The coins will be available in the US only at first and will not be available for subscriptions. Customers who do not wish to buy apps with Amazon Coins can still purchase outright with credit cards.

We love virtual currency

MiKandi is happy to welcome Amazon to the virtual currency world. When we were rebuilding our app store 2 years ago, we thought long and hard about how to tackle payments. Being a tech company that sells adult content, many services were restricted. From newsletters to payment options, our usual course of action was to build it ourselves. On top of that, at the time it was very hard for developers to make money in the Android Market compared to iTunes. Something wasn’t working and we were dead set of figuring out what that was.

We came to the conclusion that we had to think about this problem differently. The question we found ourselves asking, often, is: How do you build an app store that exceeds the current options and really resonates with consumers? We looked to the gaming industry for leadership and discovered that consumers understand and accept points-based systems with rewards and purchases. From an app store’s point of view, virtual currency makes it easy to provide customers with outstanding customer service. Download an app you really don’t like? We can simply refund your MiKandi Gold for you to spend on something you do. No hassle, no delay. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. That, coupled with our industry leading customer service, has led to our remarkable chargeback rates, something that has plagued the adult industry since the advent of online purchases. Our chargeback rates are so low, we’d hazard a guess that it would make non-virtual currency supported app stores raise their eyebrows and stroke their chins.

Imitation is the best form of flattery

We have to ask, “What took you so long, Amazon?” When MiKandi launched MiKandi Gold, our virtual currency system for paid apps back in 2010, we were the first virtual currency powered mobile app store. A few months later, we launched full support of KandiBilling to Android developers, our in-app billing API, 1 day before Google Android. There’s something to be said for small teams- we move fast. Our mommies taught us to share our software, Amazon. Next time, ask us and we’ll let you play with our toys.

Seriously.

How to buy MiKandi Gold

What, why haven’t you bought your Gold yet?

As thousands of you have discovered, MiKandi Gold is an easy way to purchase the hottest apps for your Android device. Our Gold is a safe and secure payment method that guarantees that adults can get what they want on their phone.

For those of you who haven’t purchased Gold yet or are having trouble figuring out how to buy the gold, here’s a simple 4 step process:

  1. Open your MiKandi app and make sure you’re logged in (you’ve got to be a registered user if you’re going to buy apps)
  2. On the bottom navigation bar, click on the icon with the gold, lock and keys
  3. Select the amount of gold you’d like and click Buy Now.
  4. A secure web page for our billing provider, Zombaio, will open up and present you with a secure input screen for your credit card details. Once you click “complete this transaction” the page will close and your MiKandi account will now reflect the amount of gold you just purchased.

That’s it! Make sure that you’re inputting all of the correct information into the input boxes and not missing a field – everything is required. Sometimes our awesome fans are so eager to get Gold in their account they miss a field or two – don’t let that be you!

If you should run into any issues along the way, however, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Just email us and write “MiKandi Gold problem” in the subject line, we’ll get right back to you.

 

I’m a little nervous about paying for Gold…

We get it – some of you are a little wary of opening up your wallet  and sharing your credit card information with an adult app store. Maybe you’ve gotten burned in the past or you just don’t know what’s going to show up on your credit card bill. Let us put your minds at ease. Here are some important things to know about purchasing MiKandi Gold:

  1. This billing process is very secure and safe. Our billing partner, Zombaio, is a leading billing provider for our industry and utilizes SSL to make sure that you can conduct your transaction in the most secure manner possible. Your security is our top priority.
  2. Your credit card bill will show a non-descript business, along with the date and time of the transaction. Your privacy is very important to us and the billing line item will NOT mention MiKandi or adult apps or the app you’re planning on purchasing.
  3. Refunds for apps are easy and we answer your problems quickly. If you purchase an app that turns out to not work on your phone or isn’t what you expected, you can reach out to us and we’ll work with you and the developer to make sure you’re getting what you want. If they can’t address your issue, the Gold for the app will be refunded to your MiKandi account, to be used for other apps.
  4. We will only bill you for the amount you authorize when you complete the transaction and will always be clear about any recurring charges. We don’t offer any purchases that have recurring charges at the moment, but if we do, those recurring charges will ALWAYS require your explicit approval.
  5. Our main goal is to provide the best marketplace for you and to treat you like an adult. We pride ourselves on the fact that in our first three months with MiKandi Gold we’ve not had one single charge back by a consumer. Thousands of our consumers have bought Gold and loved it – we are positive you’ll love it too.

Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions about MiKandi Gold, we’ll update this and make sure you’re all getting the information you need.

Mobile monetization, Android, virtual currency and the business of adult

Surprise! Mobile app developers care about making money

As we build our app store for adults, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we’re going to build a business for our developers. We really believe that our jobs include making sure that developers who work with MiKandi are maximizing their opportunity. To us, we haven’t been successful until we’ve made our developers successful (join our fast growing crew of developers here). Whether this means that they’re able to delight thousands of people with their elegant and fun free app or they’re able to sell their apps to crowds of adoring fans, it’s our job to really help make this occur.

We love Android, but it seems like it’s a tougher environment for app sales

Our quest to make our developers successful has us looking at the various existing app stores and thinking about what they’re doing that is important for developers. As this excellent piece on iSmashPhone discusses, it’s currently tougher to make money as a developer in the Android marketplace than it is in iTunes.

We think that some of this is rooted in Google’s approach to the mobile market (they want to be here because it drives ad impressions and sales). Some of this is a side effect of being very open – with more app delivery channels comes consumer confusion, especially in the early stages. In the long run, we believe that this will play out better for developers, or we wouldn’t be as committed to Android as we are. But in the near term, app developers are feeling the pinch and looking for solutions.

Developing an App Store means that you have to make it easy for consumers to spend

At MiKandi, we’ve come to the conclusion that we have to think about this problem differently. The question we find ourselves asking, often, is: How do you build an app store that exceeds the current options and really resonates with consumers?

Looking at the app stores that are out there today, the existing models are pretty straightforward – they apply standard credit card purchasing processes to being able to pay for the app.  Each app store is highly dependent on having customers’ credit cards on file. Apple’s iTunes store benefits from the requirement that every iPhone and iPad purchase includes a valid credit card. Due to the iPod Touch, they don’t have 100% coverage, but they’re pretty close. That’s a huge advantage for mobile monetization.

As an operator of an app store, then, it behooves us to focus on giving our consumers a compelling and trustworthy experience. If we do our jobs well, a high proportion of our consumers will have a financial relationship with us because they see a significant benefit. In a very real sense, our consumers vote with their wallets.

On the web, consumers are voting for virtual currency

We’ve been observing the landscape of mobile monetization and appreciating what’s happening in the gaming space in particular. What we’ve learned in the past year is that consumers understand and accept points-based systems with rewards and purchases. Virtual currency’s benefits are myriad and we’re excited to release the first mobile app store powered by a virtual currency system.

Our latest release of our app store (get it at http://m.mikandi.com on your Android device) is built around a virtual currency that we call MiKandi Gold. For the reasons we shared above, we believe that in lieu of credit card registration requirements, it’s much tougher to get consumers involved in app purchasing on a regular basis. Our MiKandi Gold system provides consumers with a way to purchase apps, yes, but it also gives us a foundation for future activities in the marketplace that are related to rewards and activity. In this way, our virtual currency will be key to our efforts to impress and please our consumers.

Giving things away for free isn’t always best

In an environment where the standard for most consumers is “free”, we believe that setting value expectations early on will be helpful for developers looking to make a living from their work. When an app developer thinks about what we’re building here at MiKandi (sign up as a developer today), they should be thinking about the fact that we’re working on ways for the developer to demonstrate value to consumers, right out of the gate. Today’s app store environment is very binary – either the app is free or it’s not. In our view, the future holds limited time trials, Gold rewards for repeat purchasers, social Gold for recommendations and a whole host of other potential options. We know that it’ll take a while to sort out the kinks and get these solutions in place, but we’re excited about taking a chance to change the experience for consumers and developers alike.

The right solution at the right time: our niche is facing the most price and value pressure

As the only app store focused on the 18 and over consumer, we’ve really resonated the most with the adult industry. This industry is facing a massive set of challenges, all leading to a decline in revenues in aggregate. As the new set of players in the space focus most of their efforts on making content free and monetizing through the combination of volume and affiliate advertising, the traditional brands are struggling with how to make up the shortfall.

This infographic for the adult industry that we found at: http://www.dutchcowboys.nl/online/19071 is an excellent overview of some of the challenges the companies in the space are facing.

porn_vs_therestinfographic

These datapoints are pretty clear on two things:

  1. Traditional revenue streams for the adult industry are shrinking
  2. There’s a huge opportunity in mobile for the adult industry.

We believe that the existing companies have a lot of opportunity to address their challenges by getting ahead of the mobile adoption on the part of consumers and designing products and services that are tailored to an “always on” mobile environment. With our combination of a welcoming marketplace and a monetization model that is built to be flexible and consumer-friendly, we believe that we’re doing a lot to help companies catering to the 18 and over consumer. As a partner to many of the biggest names in the industry, we believe that they can utilize their strong brand names and our approach to the mobile consumer to build new revenue streams.

Have different thoughts on mobile monetization, app stores and Android? Please leave us comments and engage us in a discussion