Online video game to offer real banking services

Sweden – The Swedish Finance Supervisory has given preliminary approval in the form of a real banking license to video game maker, MindArk PE AB. Within a year, a person will be able to enter the online sci-fi video game Entropia Universe to conduct some real-world banking business — forever changing the concept of online banking. Set on planet Calypso, there will be no lines, no hassles, and always the experience you’d expect with a friendly service from virtual bank tellers who never change.

In the Entropia video game, players are able to exchange real money for virtual currency to be used on their in-game expenses. In addition, any virtual money they earn by conducting business in the game can be converted to real money (from activities things like mining, trading, hunting, etc.) The game has a built-in fixed 10:1 exchange rate (10 game dollars for every 1 US dollar).

When MindArk sets up the real-world bank, it will be backed by Sweden’s $60,000 deposit insurance. The video game maker will operate just like a real bank, offering interest bearing accounts, direct deposit, online bill pay and even lending. The bank will be capable of acting as a traditional full-service bank, as is governed by its license.

Entropia Universe has proven to be a very successful video game. By allowing players to continually spend real-world money on buying more items for the game, they managed to rake in $420 million in 2008. They currently have 850,000 registered accounts.

Wouldn’t it be something if these huge sources of revenue from nothing (essentially, no real commodity), like World of Warcraft and Entropia Universe, wind up being the forces which drive future banking interests — and not oil?