The Earth banking system may be collapsing, but now there's an extraterrestrial bank for you to squirrel away your funds. Entropia Universe, an MMO set on the Planet Calypso, just got a Swedish banking license.
The license provides deposit insurance for all the funds held in the MMO's currency, Project Entropia Dollars, up to $60,000 worth. But it also allows regulators to keep a closer eye on the touchy issue of money laundering in virtual worlds.
Project Entropia Dollars are pegged to the U.S. dollar at a 10-to-1 exchange rate, much the way China's yuan used to be (until 2006 or thereabouts.) You can convert "real" funds into P.E. dollars, and then if you make money in the game, through mining, hunting or trading, you can withdraw your funds again and turn them back into regular dollars. (The game has had its own ATM card for the past few years.)
And now that it has a banking license, MMO producer MindArk plans to lend out money, pay interest on deposits and allow you to deposit your paycheck directly onto Planet Calypso. I wonder if the relatively small size of the Calypso economy ($420 million last year, about the same size as the Pacific island Kirabati) makes it easier or harder for people to launch speculative bubbles. Somewhere, a macroeconomics PhD student is getting very excited to study this new planetary economy. [AP]