In-world payments come to OpenSim grids

Germany’s Grid4Us and GermanGrid launched in-world money systems yesterday, using the VirWox virtual payment system. The virtual money — Open Metaverse Currency — is fully convertible with US Dollars, Euros and other real world currencies, as well as with Linden Dollars.

Unlike previous attempts to set up currencies for in-world purchases, the OMC is backed by an established game currency company. Another major difference is that the currency acts the same way that Linden Dollars do in Second Life — the user balance shows in the browser, and the pay menu options are available for in-world item purchases or land rentals. One avatar can even give money to another avatar, just as in Second Life.

OMC money can be given to another avatar.

OMC money can be given to another avatar.

In addition, the currency works with hypergrid teleports. In order to access the currency, users need to link their Grid4Us or GermanGrid avatars by clicking on an in-world service kiosk. Then they can teleport to other grids and use the money there as well.

Marcus Maué

Markus Maué

Grid4Us owner and manager  Markus Maué (also known as “Hallow Palmer”) said that it took four months to get the system working and secure.

And although only two grids currently use the system, he said, other grids can easily sign up. They first need to contact VirWoX to get approval. Then the grid owner is set up with a master account, and gets a file to download into their OpenSim folder.

“Not every small grid gets to use OMC,” said Maué– VirWoX has to confirm that the grid is run by a reputable operator and is safe. “If it’s okay, there’s only on DLL to put in the binary folder — and it works.”

VirWoX does not charge any fees for the transactions, and grids register for free as well. VirWoX makes it money through the spread of the currency exchange conversion, Maué said.

The benefits for merchants are significant, since they can now use the exact same payment mechanisms that they would in Second Life.

“You can use normal money events, and the normal scripts from Second Life,” he said. “And your browser will show the balance at the top right. It works just like the Linden Dollar.”

The difference is that the payments are not limited to just one grid.

“If you run a business in one of those [supported] grids, you can receive OMC from users all around the hypergrid,” VirWoX said in a statement.

The exchange rate is currently about the same as that of the Linden Dollar — about 280 OMC to US$1.

“It’s a big step,” said Maué . “We hope to have more grids that start this over time.”

V$ and G$

Multi-grid OpenSim merchants have three other options besides OMC.

The most common is to use PayPal or PayPal Micropayments, with the buyer visiting the PayPal Web page to make the purchase through either their existing PayPal account or with a credit card. However, in-world delivery of items is tricky, and may require manual intervention or server-side software.

The oldest OpenSim currency is V$, backed by Dutch developer Arnout Saedt, also known as “ Arnout Sequent” in Second Life and on the OpenSim platforms. Saedt’s Virtual Wallet system is personally backed by Saedt himself, and requires both the buyers and the seller to have Second Life accounts, and deposit Linden Dollars into their Virtual Wallets. ATMs located in Second Life and on several OpenSim grids allow users to link multiple OpenSim avatars to a single Virtual Wallet account. Vendors have to use special-purpose Virtual Wallet vendors to sell their goods. Saedt limits the distribution of vendors to pre-approved grid, but there is no charge for payments or currency conversions.

The other multi-grid alternative is Cyber Coin Bank‘s G$, currently available on several grids, including Second Life, Avatar Hangout, AnSky, OSGrid, Segarra Estates, and Meta7. There is also a private casino using the currency, Hedonism Resort.

According to Cyber Coin Bank founder Frank Corsi, his company will not guarantee the convertibility of this currency. Instead, in-world third-parties known as “banks” will handle the currency transfer. Neither Cyber Coin Bank nor the “banks” affiliated with the platform are registered as actual banks, however, and there is no guarantee that a “bank” will be around when a user decides to cash out his or her account.

Like Virtual Wallet, several avatar names can be linked to a single account. Unlike some of the other platforms, Corsi said that his system helps protect against in-world fraud.

“Merchants that want to have a higher limit, I make them pay a reserve of G$,” Corsi said. “We use the reserve money as an insurance fund to help cover anybody who was ripped off. If anybody gets ripped off, or scammed, I will refund them back any money they lost. Linden Labs won’t get involved in a lot of the misuse. We will step in and help mediate for people.”

The system already has around 3,000 accounts, with more than 7,000 registered avatar names. It works with hypergrid teleports, he added.

“We’ve done a lot of work with testing and making sure it’s compatible,” he said.

Corsi runs Virtual World Incubator, Inc., an Indiana-based corporation. During the dot-com boom, he started e-payments companies for online merchants, and runs a hosting company.

Corsi also has a controversial history with Second Life banking and exchange institutions, and is currently launching a Virtual World Business Exchange to list OpenSim-based startup companies.

Grid-based Payment

In addition to the above multi-grid payment options, some individual grids also offer in-world currencies for their merchants and shoppers.

For example, Openlife Grid offers in-world Credits to its users. WorldSimTerra offers OpenSim Dollars. InWorldz offers I’z at 500 I’z to the US dollar. MyOpenGrid offers M$ to its customers. Each grid handles implementation differently. Some grids have their own browsers, or adapt OpenSim server software. Others offer in-world vendors that are keyed to their currency. Some grids offer Web-based shopping as an alternative.

The only universal payment mechanisms that currently works on all grids are those linked to Web-based platforms like PayPal or Google Checkout. While these are the most secure, they are also more difficult to implement, and are significantly more expensive than in-world payments.

[Update: You can browse all hypergrid-enabled public OpenSim grids with Hyperica, the directory of hypergrid destinations. Directory indexes more than 100 shopping and freebie store locations. Updated hypergrid travel directions here.]

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • A guest comment:

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    Great piece, Maria! Very Informative too (Europe is ahead on this one). Open universal virtual currencies allow for two-way exchange, P2P transactions, and convertibility to real-world currencies. They also have the possibility to change the dynamics of game adoption by users because the currency unit will drive the user gaming/world decision. I believe that the next step in the evolution of virtual and nonpolitical digital currencies is the ability to have anonymous, negotiable digital bearer certificates backed by precious metals. That way, they won't simply exist on a ledger but they can be privately accumulated and negotiated, rarely being exchanged for governmental currency units.

    Jon Matonis
    http://themonetaryfuture.blogspot.com

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  • The Mod-PayPal module implements PayPal support for OpenSim. It was developed by Adam Frisby and me. During the last months it was successfully tested on some of the regions that my company Dreamland Metaverse hosts for it's customers (http://www.3dmetaverse.com/).

    It implements user-to-user payments, user-to-object payments, as well as object and land purchases, using the standard viewer functionality and money LSL functions and event. The only LSL function not supported is llGiveMoney. All financtial transactions are in US$ cents (OS$ 100 = US$ 1.00) and go through PayPal and are authorized on the secure PayPal web site.

    This optional money module can be used for standalone regions and regions running as part of a grid like OSGrid. It is fully implemented within the region server and does not need any additional functionailty at grid level. The Mod-PayPal module needs to be added to the OpenSim source code as optional module before compiling OpenSim.

    Mod-PayPal repository: http://github.com/SnoopyPfeffer/Mod-PayPal

  • Snoopy —

    Fantastic! Where can we go to see this in action? Also, does this use PayPal or PayPal Micropayments — or is this up to individual merchants? And does it do anything with the balance at the top right of the browser screen? (Not that PayPal requires a balance — you can pay by credit card without even having a PayPal account..)

    Thanks!

    – Maria

  • Hello,

    I am Gibs from Virtual RP. We are creating a new grid based on Opensim. Our grid are not open because we wait to finish website, marketplace and money module.

    We decided to install Virvox module to test money. It seems correct to use. I just saw a bug that need to be fix. When you TP, sometimes virvox module loose money information on the viewer. And when you engaged a new TP, money is ok on your viewer. The module is young and promise great things for opengrid.

    Virtual RP is created by Froggy french team and help by some SL brands to build sims and items.

    We hope open our grid on April.

    Gibs VirtualRP
    http://www.virtual-rp.com (opening SOON)

  • Two more grids (OpenNeuland, WilderWesten) have adopted OMC as their currency. This brings the current number of regions running the OpenSim module to 340.

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  • I hope RP worlds looks at this. WHat about a vending system for open grids? is there some kind of developers kit or do I actuall have to read stuff here? hehe.

  • Virtualife bank money

    We use our payment system world.Oltre economy that we have on various regions in virtualife and osgrid with our system where we are building the casino.

    o$ purchase of $ or is delivered via the web site https: / / money.virtualifebank.it / main automatically with paypal or credit card

    In osgrid search in map casino.

    It' s the first region we are buiding but economy work fine

    Our grid is virtualife, http://www.virtualife.it website.

    The current exchange rate is 300 o$ = 1 $

  • Gibs VirtualRP
    http://www.virtual-rp.com (opening SOON)

    also make a English version…