Here on Island Oasis, we spent most of March developing and testing our own internal currency. This feature was implemented on April 7 and has been running without issue since.
Until then, Island Oasis was using VirWoX OMC as our primary currency. This solution was more than sufficient initially when we launched the grid back in March of 2011. First and foremost, it was easy to implement and was a free service. At the time, choosing VirWoX was a no-brainer.
However, over the course of the following year and as our rate of growth began to accelerate, it became clear that using a third party for our primary currency system was not going to work.
Our decision to go with our own currency instead of using a third party service was based on a few different factors.
First, considering that we are a commercial grid and a large number of our members are content creators, we did not want to inhibit their ability to hit the ground running so to speak by requiring them to complete a second registration process in order to buy and sell content.
Second, many of our members found the registration process for VirWoX to be cumbersome, time consuming, and often times they would encounter technical difficulties although, much of the encountered issues were brought on by user errors during the registration process. Nonetheless, many found it discouraging. Consequently, many would simply give up or not even bother trying. Others simply refused to use the currency system because it was separate and disconnected from the core grid functionality.
Of course, we also had many members register without any issues at all; it was hit and miss depending on independent circumstances.
Additionally, it became increasingly clear that the amount of time required by our staff to assist those who did encounter problems was becoming too great. We simply would not be able to keep up with the demand to provide assistance to all existing and incoming members.
Our new currency system is fully integrated with the core software and functions identically to currency systems on other commercial grids such as InWorldz, Avination, and Second Life. Our currency is called Paolino’s and its symbol is P$.
We will be, in the very near future, working with VirWoX to provide secondary services for our members for things such as currency transport i.e. moving P$’s to other grids, and converting currency to many other local real world currencies.
A local currency is a risky step
In addition to considering the factors for moving to an internal currency system, we also took into consideration all of the risk factors that come along with such a move.
Based on some blogs and articles that we’ve read both on Hypergrid Business and other sources, including an excellent discussion of the topic written by the founders of InWorldz, we implemented safeguards and safety precautions to protect the integrity of our system in addition to protecting the interests of our members.
This includes putting proper system checks in place to counter certain bugs that we found in the Hippo and Imprudence viewers relating to money. Another precaution was to follow the advice found in the aforementioned article by the folks at InWorldz and process all cash-out requests manually. This allows for an audit process to take place before the currency ever leaves the grid, which helps to reduce fraud.
In the end, operating and hosting our own internal currency system gives us full control over the system and provides us with the ability to provide a higher level and more immediate support to our members. Our members are not required to complete a secondary registration process in order to purchase or sell content in world. We feel that this is the ideal scenario for our residents and allows them to focus on what is important to them.
Having a currency also allows us to add some functionality, such as a marketplace.
My partner and I have had more than a few residents ask for an online marketplace similar to what you would find on Second Life’s web site. Considering that, at the time, we were still utilizing VirWoX OMC as our currency solution and not to mention the in-world delivery limitations of the opensim software, the prospect of implementing such a feature in Island Oasis was next to impossible.
That all changed when we rolled out our internal currency system.
With that implementation came the ability for us to fully integrate the exchange of in world currency from one member to another via the web site. This, in turn, allows our members to use P$’s to buy in-world content rather than having to use a third party solution such as PayPal.
Also, we worked hard to find a viable solution to the delivery problem. Our online marketplace went live on May 4. Similar to other online marketplaces that I’ve used in the past, our marketplace allows for searching, filtering by category, price, and permission settings. All purchases are made via our in-world currency (P$) and the purchased item is delivered directly to our residents’ logged-in avatars.