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Virtual game gets real world banking permit

Entropia Universe receives license from Swedish authorities to set up a real bank

Giving virtual reality a whole new dimension, an online game has been granted a banking license in the real world.

Entropia Universe by publisher MindArk received a banking license from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority recently, with plans to open a real bank within a year.

According to the company’s business development director David Simmonds, the bank will offer standard services such as interest-bearing accounts, direct deposit of paychecks and bill payment. Setting up a real-world bank will see MindArk protected by the Swedish government’s deposit insurance for these accounts, which involves up to $60,000 for each customer.

The online game is unique to most others because it already allows players to exchange real money for virtual currency – Project Entropia Dollars (PED) - that has a fixed 10-to-1 exchange rate to the U.S. dollar.

PED is acquired by depositing local currency into a personal Entropia Universe user account. Virtual money can be made in the game through trading, hunting or through other activities. The user may then, at any time, convert their PED to real currency by initiating a withdrawal request through Mindark PE AB.

Economic activity in the virtual universe was worth close to $420 million in 2008, with 850,000 user accounts.

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