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On June 16, online games service SmartyCard announced an interesting deal with kajeet, a cell phone service made for kids. Starting today, tweens can redeem SmartyCard points earned in games for kajeet’s pay-as-you-go mobile phones.
This is yet another sign that the U.S. is rapidly following in China’s footsteps in using virtual money earned in online games for real-life purchases. In China, teenagers already use their online game points to buy everything from cell phones to official government currency. In the U.S., virtual currencies have gained traction online in the past several years through efforts of virtual worlds like Second Life and games like the World of Warcraft. The kajeet-SmartyCard deal is another move in this direction. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if people will be able to redeem their game points for groceries at convenience stores or for consumer electronics at Best Buy.