Entropia News: MasterCard Deal, RL Bank, More
A small raft of news emerged from the virtual world of Entropia Universe this week, including tie-ups with MasterCard and a real-life bank, and a new awards show being put on by virtual entrepreneurs Anshe Chung and Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs.
First up, MasterCard. Entropia has been trying to implement a real-life card for some time. A year ago, it gave its customers the ability to deposit real money to their game accounts via a bank card used at an ATM. Cash was withdrawn from your real-world account, converted on the fly into PED, Entropia’s virtual currency (which is fixed at 10 to the U.S. dollar), and deposited into your Entropia account. Entropia also has a reloadable debit card that you can deposit your PED to, which is then available as real-world cash at ATMs. Now, the company has struck a new deal with a financial institution that can give its cards MasterCard branding, Entropia says: “The new card will be cheaper to use for our customers, and have more functions including MasterCard branding which will allow the card to be used in retail outlets as well as traditional ATMs.” [Via RCEUniverse.]
I’m always a bit skeptical about what Entropia is up to, for some reason, but you have to hand it to them in this case: they reqally are pushing the boundaries of the financial links between the real and virtual worlds. You can get a World of Warcraft-branded Visa card now, but that’s just a loyalty program, it doesn’t turn your Warcraft gold into cold, hard cash.
Entropia also issued a press release, relating to its recent auction of banking licenses, in which it claims that one of the winners of those auctions is “representing a real life bank.” It’s hard to call this an important development without knowing the details of which bank and what representative won the auction, but it’s certainly worth noting. Another winner of a license is apparently a Russian Internet payment provider.
Finally, there comes news [also via RCEUniverse] that Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs (the former Entropia spokesperson who helped the company into the spotlight with a purchase of some expensive Entropia real estate), and the entrepreneurial avatar Anshe Chung (who made her pile in Second Life but now also operates in Entropia and elsewhere) are joining forces to mount the Virtual World Awards, which will be a presentation of the Virtual Worlds Academy that the two apparently founded in March. There’s even a press release marking the initiative. Sounds like fun, and a good way to recognize great projects, but I can’t help wishing the Academy was the initiative of a more broadly based industry group. Still, get your nominations in now.