Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cash Cards and Virtual Banks

There's a buzz right now, and it's not all positive, about Mindark's current auction of five banking licenses inside EU. The common refrain among players? Why are they focusing on "banks and cash cards" when other needs are obvious - storyline development, infrastructure, and bug fixes to name a few.

See what's happening here? Cash cards are being lumped in with the banking licenses. And that's unfortunate because the cash cards were a huge win for Mindark. How quickly we forget...

In the summer of 2006, Mindark announced that players would be able to access their PED using at any ATM using an EU branded cash card. A fairly simple bolt on technology for them, but somewhat groundbreaking stuff for the players. Why groundbreaking? In the past Mindark was often criticized for the discrepancy between deposit times, which took a few seconds, and withdrawal times, which took an average of four months. Players demanded faster withdrawal times, and with the new cash card system, Mindark delivered. And then some.

The roll out had a few hitches, but the bottom line was that you could now withdraw your PED - instantly - as cash at nearly any ATM in the world. The holy grail had been achieved. The difference between withdrawal and deposit times had been completely eliminated, much to the chagrin of Mindark's critics.

A few months after the successful roll out, a payment processor somewhere downstream, CU-Connect, became insolvent. Several other CU-Connect clients were also left in the lurch. Now there are a bunch of us running around with a useless cash card in our wallets, and Mindark is focused on the Next Big Thing.

I don't understand the banking licenses and why we need them inside Entropia. Maybe more details will be revealed and I'll have an "aha!" moment. In world banking, at this point, seems to be designed for media consumption.

But I do understand how critical the cash card system is. Not only for me, selfishly, but as a marketing tool. An Entropia virgin dropping $500 for the first time on a virtual gun needs some assurance. Some assurance that if she wants to give us all the finger and cash out tomorrow, she won't have to wait four months to get her cash back. That's important. That's critically important.

"David Simmonds said at least one bank interested in the Entropia banking licenses (which he wouldn't name, other than to say it's one of the biggest in the world) might also begin handling transactions for the cash cards."

ATM Marketplace

The cash card system has been down for nearly 60 days as of this writing. Here's hoping Mindark doesn't get stupid and wait around for their new banking partner to rescue the cash card program. The two are not related. And just because many players get them confused isn't reason for Mindark to.

1 comment:

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