A run on the biggest of the virtual banks in the fantasy online world Second Life could put real money at risk.
Ginko Financial, has stopped accepting deposits, frozen withdrawals and converted all accountholders' money into tradeable debt securities called Ginko Perpetual Bonds, which can be bought or sold on Second Life's World Stock Exhange.
When Second Life banned gambling a couple of weeks ago, gamers started deposting their Linden dollars with virtual banks instead, hoping to cash in on the generous interest rates on offer. Ginko Financial, for example, offered 0,10% daily accrued interest – or 44% per annum.
Linden dollars may be imaginery, but they can be sold for real US dollars, at an exchange rate of LD270.00 to the dollar.
When it closed its doors yesterday, Ginko Financial has the equivalent of about $700 000.00 on deposit from about 18 000 customers, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
With their deposits converted to bonds, the bank's clients can still withdraw their funds, but they will receive market value rather than the fixed rate.