In a fairly low key announcement Valve have launched the beta of ‘Steam Wallet’, a new feature that will allow you to add pre-paid funds into your Steam account. However at the current moment in time it seems to serve no purpose whatsoever.
In it’s current form it’s pretty pointless. Due to Steam allowing you to purchase with a credit card anyway you can buy the game at the exact price the game costs. Instead of buying a pre-paid amount in the thought you may one day buy a game (for exactly £18). There’s no ability to gift them either currently which might make it somewhat useful. One Steam forum member suggest that it would allow buying a preset amount on a child’s account without giving them access to your CC details. Though I’m unsure how often this must arise to implement a feature like this.
The most likely future for this scheme, it is only day one and very little info from Valve, is that they may intend to spin this off into pre-paid cards available in stores much like MS points and PSN cards. Steam is growing up fast and these cards are fairly popular on the consoles, They would certainly be much simpler for mothers around the world than attempting to gift a game though Steam. Another potential use is with Steamworks microtransactions. A new addition to Steamworks that slipped in around the Mac update. These smaller purchases might be more simpler dealt with a lump sum purchase rather than incurring credit card charges on buying things for 50p a pop.
If you’re wanting to have a shot with this (for whatever reason) then links are below. Though also be aware, as a few forum posters have warned, hackers and scammers may potentially move up their attacks with knowledge that accounts now contain raw cash. Though I’d imagine many of you have much more than the maximum £70 locked up as games in your Steam accounts.