Online game gets real-world banking license

Mar 18, 2009 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- With banks around the world foundering, the idea of moving your bank account to another planet might have some appeal.

Interstellar banking isn't here yet, but at least you can pretend. The publisher of the online science-fiction game "Entropia Universe," set on the planet Calypso, received a from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority last week and plans to open a real bank within a year, albeit one without physical, walk-in branches.

Players of "Entropia" already exchange real for a that is used for their expenses on Calypso. And virtual money they make in the game, through hunting, mining, trading or other activities, can be cashed out into real money. The virtual currency, Project Entropia Dollars, has a fixed 10-to-1 exchange rate to the U.S. dollar.

By setting up a real-world bank, Sweden-based publisher MindArk PE AB gains the protection of the Swedish government's deposit insurance for these accounts, up to about $60,000 for each customer.

MindArk also plans to offer standard bank services like interest-bearing accounts, direct deposit of , bill payment and lending, said David Simmonds, the company's business development director.

The company isn't clear on what type of lending it will engage in, but Simmonds said it wasn't planning to make the sort of risky investments that have foiled other banks.

The banking license also means regulators will gain more insight into possible money laundering in the . Simmonds said the company is already keeping an eye out for such activities.

The in "Entropia Universe" was worth about $420 million last year, about the same as the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, population 110,000. The game has 850,000 player accounts, though not all of them represent active players.

"Entropia Universe" is unusual in allowing a free conversion between its virtual currency and real money. Most online games, like "World of Warcraft," prohibit the sale of virtual items and money for real cash.

---

On the Net:

http://www.entropiauniverse.com

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Belarus tightens control over online media

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tycoons Buy In to New Virtual Banks

May 10, 2007

Actual banking has hit the virtual world – one of them, at least. Entropia Universe this week made $400,000 in real cash on the sale of five banking licenses. The licenses will allow their owners to lend cash to the community's ...

Developing countries benefit from online gold rush

Sep 15, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Impatient online computer gamers have sparked a new industry in developing countries – by paying fellow gamers real cash in return for financial help in the virtual world.

Pendulum Finds Virtual Soulmate

Jun 14, 2007

What's nerdier than creating an online avatar that fights dragons and raids strongholds? Creating a virtual pendulum that you can sync up to your real-life pendulum. Leave it to physicists to do just that, resulting in a ...

Recommended for you

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

Brazil: Google fined in Petrobras probe

Dec 15, 2014

A Brazilian court says it has fined Google around $200,000 for refusing to intercept emails needed in a corruption investigation at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Microsoft builds support over Ireland email case

Dec 15, 2014

Microsoft said Monday it had secured broad support from a coalition of influential technology and media firms as it seeks to challenge a US ruling ordering it to hand over emails stored on a server in Ireland.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.