MindArk PE AB, the company responsible for the virtual world Entropia Universe has just announced the new owners of 5 virtual banking licenses.
The ‘virtual licenses’ were auctioned off by MindArk and after months of bidding (since Jan.), and the five licensed sold for over $400,000. An amazing price in real USD considering these licenses are for fictional banking in a virtual online world.
The auction winners are all very different personalities including: a Entropia Universe ‘celebrity’ virtual night club owner, one real world entrepreneur, a Russian Internet Payment Provider and one person who represents an actual real world bank (to be announced at a later date). Prices ranged from just over $59,000 to as high as $95,000 per license.
Each license is a virtual agreement which allows the holder a two-year exclusive license to integrate real world banking systems into Entropia Universe.
The virtual world of Entropia Universe is the ONLY online virtual world which pegs their ‘game currency’ to a fixed rate with the US dollar. Consequently, any virtual currency obtained while in the fantasy world can be quickly and easily withdrawn in US dollars. They even offer a debit card. I wonder if they will have an Anti-Virtual-Money Laundering Policy?
The Linden Dollar, which is another popular virtual currency from Second Life, has a floating value when converting the L$ back into real cash. You can find that fluctuating bid/ask exchange rate on the SL Exchange and other similar webs.
These new bank licenses will offer the holders a secure platform within the virtual world to loan money and collect interest. Bank operators can design their own online bank building and utilize the Universe’s extensive advertising opportunities. The bank’s avatars [employees] will interact as service professionals attending to other avatar’s [customers] banking needs. What’s the catch? Each license holder must provide his operation initial working capital of $100,000 real money.
Entropia Universe has set several world records for sales of virtual ‘property’ including a Treasure Island ($26,500) and an asteroid based space resort ($100,000).
Entropia Universe started in 2003 and has just under 600,000 registered accounts. Last year, 2006, they cash flowed around $360,000,000 in USD. Or 3.6 billion PED, their virtual currency.
Correction: The blog post originally showed last years cash flow at just $360,000 not million. Its correct above, 360 million USD.