Well, they are in Second Life, at least; Linden Lab, creators of the anarchic virtual world, have stepped in with a major change to the terms of service that bans individuals and organisations from running finance operations that offer “unsustainable interest”:
“Usually, we don’t step in the middle of Resident-to-Resident conduct – letting Residents decide how to act, live, or play in Second Life.
But these “banks” have brought unique and substantial risks to Second Life, and we feel it’s our duty to step in. Offering unsustainably high interest rates, they are in most cases doomed to collapse – leaving upset “depositors” with nothing to show for their investments. As these activities grow, they become more likely to lead to destabilization of the virtual economy.”
This move is doubtless triggered by the final collapse of SL Ponzi scheme bank Ginko Financial – though the threat of lawsuits from people who lose significant amounts of real-world money probably has a part to play as well.
Economist Robert Bloomfield is a little disappointed, as he saw the SL economy as an experimental control group for learning how real-world markets operate, and he wonders whether some of the stock exchanges will continue to operate – if the Linden Lab rules provide sufficient loopholes for them to do so.
Meanwhile, Ian Betteridge wonders if we’ll see real banks stepping into the breach. [Image by ChikaWatanabe]