Google has acquired virtual currency firm Jambool, in a move that demonstrates the internet giant's social networking aspirations.
"Our vision is to build world-class products that help developers manage and monetize their virtual economies across the globe. When the opportunity arose to join forces with Google to execute against this vision, we couldn't pass it up," wrote Jambool founders Vikas Gupta and Reza Hussein on the company's web site.
"We are thrilled to bring the Social Gold platform to Google's global users. And we invite you - our customers, partners, and friends - to continue on the journey with us."
Google operates a real currency payment system called Google Checkout and it seems likely that Social Gold will either compliment this offering for the much rumoured Google social networking web site or be combined as a platform for social networking. Google CEO Eric Schmidt had previously said that "the world doesn’t need a copy of the same thing," referring to social networking giant Facebook.
Schmidt had also described the acquisition of social networking game companies as part of a strategy to facilitate social gaming rather than a move to become a social gaming developer.
Google has reportedly been in discussions with Internet payment leader PayPal to offer PayPal as a payment option for the Android marketplace. The timing of these discussions may be more than just coincidence, raising the possibility that Google is looking to implement a payment platform which includes virtual gaming currency as well as billing and payment through traditional systems such as Google Checkout and PayPal.