Anshe to Launch Inter-World Financial Market
Virtual entrepreneur Anshe Chung will launch a virtual world-spanning financial market in early June, according to a news release on the Anshe Chung Studios site. The service will “allow direct capital flow and investment across virtual world boundaries,” and will link the markets of Second Life, Entropia Universe and IMVU. Anshe Chung Studios — which is run by German citizens Ailin and Guntram Graef — will provide “a virtual financial market, financial products and a set of services” linking the three worlds. Among other things, the service will allow Second Life residents to invest their Linden dollars in things like malls and other locations in Entropia. Second Life land funds and similar instruments would be available for investment by holders of IMVU and Entropia currency, and IMVU fashion businesses might receive investments in L$ or PED (the Entropia currency). It remains to be seen whether there’s much of a market for such inter-world investment, but Anshe has a very interesting take on the possible effects of making financial borders more porous:
“We believe that allowing residents in a virtual world, no matter which one they have chosen to live in, to easily diversify their portfolio of virtual investments into other virtual worlds is going to lead to a paradigm shift,” the press release reads. “At ACS we are convinced that once capital is flowing freely, people, goods and services will follow and eventually we will see incentive and pressure for the emergence of open tools and standards. It is our vision that one day even traveling across virtual worlds and taking your belongings with you should become as easy as a mouseclick.”
An inter-world financial market may help push things in that direction. On the other hand, it may be too early for such a market to thrive. While Web sites such as IGE deal in the currencies of a number of different virtual worlds, the currency arbitrage that takes place is a rather small proportion of the total market. (Note that in the absence of regulatory bodies I have only anecdotal evidence to go on for this. I’m confident we would have heard of more arbitrage cowboys if they were out there, however. Many people do prefer to operate under the radar, but there always seems to be at least one braggart.)
The market Anshe envisions, of course, is more than just a forex market, and it’s entirely possible we’ll start to see a lot of cross-border investment. One of the best things Anshe could do here would be to quantify that trade for us, or at least make the figures available for people who might like to construct financial reports on the state of affairs. Let’s hope the “business girl” is at least that open with the information flowing through her markets. It should be of slight concern that there is no regulatory body, but in fact these kind of flows will eventually be regulated by the same people who regulate real-world financial markets; it remains only for virtual markets to grow large enough to merit oversight. For now, there’s a new wild west frontier opening up for any virtual investment cowboys out there. Saddle up.