Social network Hi5 has launched a virtual-gift store and currency called "Hi5 Coins."
Hi5 is big on multiculturalism--the San Francisco-based company enjoys its most loyal following in a number of Latin American countries--so many of the gifts have regional cultural significance. The payment system is handled through the third-party service ClickandBuy, and a total of 36 gifts are available at launch.
Expect virtual-gift services to get even hotter in the social-network world over the next few months, as companies scramble for another form of revenue besides advertising. Facebook has modified its in-house Gifts application to allow for variable pricing, for example.
Gifts and virtual goods are also some of the biggest moneymakers on social-application platforms like Facebook's, not to mention in virtual worlds where members pay to accessorize their avatars.