Star Trek Online has always had a variety of currencies for players, each allowing access to different stocks of items. But another form of money is coming into the game, and much like gold-pressed latinum, it's something that has a long history in lore. The rare and valuable dilithium is being introduced as a new form of reward, and the latest entry in the Path to F2P series discusses just how the new form of money will work.
The most important role that the ore will play will be in replacing the existing free ship tokens that had previously come when players achieved a new rank. Earning a new ship will now be a more difficult and involved task, with a discount coupon and a free offering of refined dilithium to make it easier to earn a ship on a rank increase, but it won't be automatic. The entry goes on to state that the current implementation on the test server is not quite right, and it includes more discussion about how much effort is meant to be involved in getting a brand-new ship.