Last week, (NASDAQ:AMZN) handed out 500 new virtual "Coins" to Kindle Fire owners, telling them they were theirs to spend as they will. (At a penny a piece, they're worth a whole $5 -- so go wild.) Much like Apple and Starbucks with their branded, use-only-at-our-stores debit cards, or like tokens bought for cash at a video arcade, Amazon's Coins can be used only one place:

Why is Amazon inventing a new currency -- and will giving away a few tens of millions of dollars' worth of Coins be enough to get them into regular circulation? In the video below, Fool contributor Rich Smith breaks it down for investors.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends, Apple, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Apple, Microsoft, and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.