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A Five Percent Return on Facebook Credits?

Walk by the enormous gift card displays at big box retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, and you will see gift cards for Facebook Credits in $10, $25, and $50 denominations (Credits are currently worth $.10).  Other than purchasing Credits directly through Facebook, this is currently the only mainstream way to acquire Credits.  Yes, you can sometimes find gift cards for sale on E-Bay, but it is nearly impossible, after bidding and shipping, to acquire them at a meaningful discount.  There is no marketplace for Credits (that we're aware of), and Credits are not freely tradeable, so there is no way to exchange Credits for cash.  There isn't even a way to transfer Credits directly to other Facebook users.  And Facebook is quite clear in their payments terms of service: "You will not sell Credits to anyone, or transfer them to anyone outside of Facebook."

However, we believe we've discovered a relatively easy way to make 5% selling Facebook Credits without infringing on the TOS.  It takes a little bit of legwork, but could be profitable.

  • Go to Plastic Jungle, a popular reseller of unwanted gift cards.  Best Buy  gift cards are currently quoted at a 5% discount in $25 or $30 denominations.  Purchase the physical gift cards only.  Yes, you can use the e-code gift cards to purchase Facebook Credits via bestbuy.com, however, you will be charged both sales tax and shipping, transaction costs which would wipe out your profit margin.  Plastic Jungle, on the other hand, charges neither sales tax nor shipping.
  • When you receive your discounted gift cards, take them to a Best Buy in a state which charges 0% sales tax (Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, or Alaska).  Use your gift cards to purchase a corresponding amount of Facebook Credits.  There will be some slippage here, of course, as the numbers will not match up exactly, however it should be close enough so as not to materially impact your return.
  • If you do not already have a Facebook Page frequented by Facebook gamers, create a page.  Add the Shopping Mall application by Payvment, and add your Credit gift cards to your inventory.  You can price them at full value if you find that the market is there, or you can discount them slightly as an enticement (this will, of course, erode your return).
  • When the cards are purchased and the payments cleared, e-mail the redemption code to the purchaser to complete the transaction.

Plastic Jungle offers volume purchasing, and arrangements could be made to automate future purchases of gift cards at Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, and other Facebook Credit gift card retailers.

The question is whether this approach would be in violation of Facebook's terms of service.  If they are meant to ensure that Facebook Credits stay within Facebook, then technically our strategy is not out of bounds, as the Credits are not being sold or transferred to anyone outside of Facebook (only Facebook users can interact with Facebook pages).  Moreover, as a practical matter, this strategy actually benefits Facebook in that the otherwise idle Best Buy gift cards are being used to purchase Credits and put them into circulation.  Facebook could, conceivably, insist that the Credits be offered at full value, in which case this only enhances the return (though it could impact sales).  We are, of course, not in any way advocating the willful infringement of Facebook's terms of service, and we believe that this approach, as outlined, complies with the TOS as stated.

We are, however, highlighting an opportunity to profit from what is an inefficient market for a virtual currency.

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