Hi5 launches virtual-gift emporium

Much like Facebook's, the Hi5 gift shop allows members to give one another virtual items for a fee. A total of 36 gifts, many with a Latin American cultural bent, are available at launch.

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.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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