Amazon announced Thursday that Alexa developers have a couple more options for monetizing their Alexa skills. The company has opened up access to two of its monetization tools for Alexa developers: in-skill purchasing and Amazon Pay for Alexa skills. The tools were previously available to only a handful of brands.
Alexa is the brain of Amazon's Echo and digital assistant efforts, and the Alexa skills are voice-activated apps built by third-party developers that allow Alexa to deliver additional services and features.
A year ago Amazon began rewarding developers with direct cash payouts for having top skills in select categories. The company then offered cash payments to developers who built Alexa skills with high customer engagement stats, in addition to other metrics such as usage, visits, new customers, and ratings.
The new in-skill purchasing program lets developers charge users for "premium digital content to enrich [an] Alexa skill experience," Amazon said. It's basically another version of in-app purchasing, where users have to pay an additional fee to unlock access to certain content or feature.
Amazon Pay with Alexa skills lets merchants and developers sells physical goods or services through an Alexa skill, such event tickets, transportation, or flower delivery. Customers are able to pay using information linked to their Amazon account without leaving the voice skill.
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Microsoft and Amazon promised to integrate Cortana and Alexa before the end of 2017. Since then, there's been almost no word on what's going on, beyond a few new hints.