OMC, I’z transactions grow on OpenSim

The OpenSim economy continued to grow this month, with both the OMC currency and the I’z currency from InWorldz growing in users and transactions.

The OMC, a convertible currency from Austrian virtual currency exchange operator Virwox, is now accepted on 18 different grids — AnSky Grid, Avatar Hangout, FrancoGrid, GermanGrid, GiantGrid, Jamland, Logicamp, NorthGrid, OSgrid, Oneworld Grid, Reseau Oceax, Shiawase Grid, Open Neuland, Wilder Westen, Twisted Sky, UFS Grid, WorldSimTerra and Your Alternative Life.

Total OMC in circulation is now 472,800 OMC (US $1,682) — up from 382,537 OMC (US $1,331) one month ago, an increase of 24 percent.

Total OMC in circulation. (Image courtesy Virwox.)

Over the past month, 1,176 people were active using the currency, compared to 991 the preceding 30 days, an increase of 19 percent.

Active avatars using OMC. (Image courtesy Virwox.)

OMC has seen more takeup in the larger grids in the OpenSim universe since it was launched this past spring, partly because of solid backing from Virwox, one of the largest Linden dollar exchanges in Europe, and its lack of affiliation to any specific OpenSim grid or shopping platform.Virwox has traded over 4 billion Linden dollars (US$ 14.5 million) since it was founded in 2007.

In addition, the OMC is fully convertible to the US dollar, the Euro, and the Linden dollar, through a simple Web interface.

The OMC is hypergrid-enabled. Users with a balance in their OMC account will see that balance displayed in their viewers whenever they are on an region with OMC activated. That balance will stay with the users even as they hypergrid teleport from one grid to another and allows users to buy products on one grid and bring them home to their own grids.

A competing currency, the G$, is also hypergrid-enabled. According to parent company CyberCoinBank, the G$ can currently be used on eight grids — Avatar Hangout, Second Life, AnSky GridOS Grid, Virtual Highway, Meta7, InWorldz and Alpha Towne.

Since the G$ and the OMC use different systems, both currencies can be used on the same grid.

CyberCoinBank does not publish transaction or user information for the G$ currency, and the company has not yet responded to our requests for recent data. Last month, however, it reported 112 million G$ (US $448,000)  in circulation in seven OpenSim grids, across Second Life, and in private role playing and gaming grids.

InWorldz currency purchases double

Meanwhile, the fastest-growing commercial grid on OpenSim, InWorldz, has begun reporting total purchases of its on-grid I’z currency.

In October, InWorldz sold 12,906,500 I’z (US$25,813), an increase of 102 percent from September’s 6,384,250 I’z (US$12,768).

While the currency can only be used on the InWorldz grid, the amount of new I’z sold in October is more than 15 times the total OMC in circulation.

InWorldz also gained more then 3,000 new users over the past month, more than any other grid on the OpenSim platform.

InWorldz has become a popular destination for virtual retailers because the grid is not on the hypergrid, and region exports are restricted. As a result, it is more difficult for people to take content from InWorldz to other grids, adding a level of security for content producers. In addition, InWorldz has an excellent reputation for support and customer service (see our latest poll of grid users here).

(Data from InWorldz, LLC.)

Like the OMC, the I’z is a redeemable currency. In October, residents cashed out $17,729 worth of I’z, according to InWorldz co-founder Beth Reischl, who is also known as Elenia Llewellyn in-world.

Buyer beware

One possible obstacle hindering the growth of the OMC currency is that there there is no simple way to resolve disputes.

For example, if a merchant takes your money on InWorldz and doesn’t give you your purchase in return, you can complain to the grid owners and they’re likely to step in and make things right — or ban the merchant from the grid if there’s a large number of complaints.

Grid owners can step in because they control the land and the currency. On other grids, however, the dispute mechanism can be less clear, or even non-existent — and buyers are on their own. In particular, if a merchant users a third-party, multi-grid currency, there is only so much that grid owners can do to mediate disputes even if they wanted to.

Grid owners also can’t guarantee the safety of outside currencies.

“We have no association to any third party programs and we have no idea how they handle security or have any way to audit their code or systems,” said OSGrid president Michael Cerquoni, also known as Nebadon Izumi in-world.

Finally, open grids such as OSGrid — which allow anyone to connect regions — have less control over the land on their grids than closed, commercial grids do. On a closed, commercial grid, regions owners have to rent regions from the grid itself, provide payment information, and be required to comply with a Terms of Service agreement.

“We will not endorse or recommend usage of any commerce platforms in any open grids,” said Cerquoni.

Here at Hypergrid Business, we recommend that shoppers make their purchases only on trusted grids and stick to commercial grids where grid owners can exercise some control over the merchants. For G$, for example, the Alpha Towne grid managers will step in and help resolve disputes, according to CyberCoinBank founder and Alpha Towne grid operator Frank Corsi.

For OMC purchases, both Wilder Westen and German Grid are commercial grids that exercise direct control over all their regions.

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.

  • Gaga Gracious

    No currency is 100% safe, neither real world or virtual. The recent crash in global banking illustrates that. The answer to virtual currency is to never hold too much and cash out often if you find your balance growing. If cashing out is not an option then don't use it. The delivery of the virtual items however has be the responsibility of the grid owners who permit those sales on their grids.

    Maria pointed out one should only buy stuff and use V-currency on grids you trust although by what yard stick one establishes that trust is hard to say. Loyal supporters of particular grid will always say their's is safe and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that grids might fail and, if they are closed commercial grids like SL where permissions prevent download to your hard drive then you are just as likely to loose everything you ever paid for anyway.

    Personally, I have never had a lot of faith in V-currencies and I rather think PayPal micro payments is the safer bet since they offer a fairly simple means to complain and get redress when goods don't get delivered. Quite how a vendor proves they sent virtual goods I don't know but at least you have the transaction on record with PayPal. They are a big registered bank too which does give a bit more confidence.

    The problem for Hypergrid-enabled grids is yet another ball game however since one can bring virtual stuff home where, if you own the grid, you have full access to it. Licensing seems now to be the only way commerce can exist on the HG grids which, in my view, is not so bad since everything is being copied anyway. I can make pretty much anything I have ever seen in SL if I want to take the time and trouble. What I can't make, or find troublesome and time-consuming, I am just as likely to be able to find full perm parts for such as textures, sculpts and animations. Every script offers a flow chart when you see it in operation and just as Opensim was reverse engineered so just about every LSL script can be too.

    I know content makers worry over copyright a lot and I did too to some extent but I now see it is a losing battle. Closed grids can't guarantee anything. Even SL can't guarantee your stuff wont be copied whether is be copybot or hands-on reconstruction. If it has been made once it is sure to be made again.

    The closed proprietary grids have a vested interest in pointing to their closed status when trying to attract content makers but for all the reasons I said above and more what they promise is just an illusion – just as surly as their virtual currencies are.

  • Another reason for buyers of virtual currency to be careful:

    When you use real money to buy virtual currency, they get your real money and you get virtual currency. That’s fine so long as they keep your real money somewhere safe (e.g. in an interest-bearing bank account). Do they? Perhaps you should ask. I’d be very upset if they told me they used the money I gave them to buy milk at the grocery store. What if I want to sell my virtual currency back to them? Do they have my RL money to give back to me?

    RL banks are required to have a certain fraction of total deposits available at all times, but that’s a different situation; banks are regulated by RL governments. I’m not sure what regulations apply to virtual currency sellers/buyers.

  • Slight misprint Maria, InWorldz does not use the G$, and while I see we’re listed on their site for such, that is in fact false.

    Thanks.