Virtual Banking (18): Volksbank and Raiffeisenbank
Initially I thought this build was from the Austrian based Volksbank AG, or Volksbank Group, but that's a mixup. This presence is the German Volksbank, a cooperation of different local banks.
Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken with over 15,7 million members and 30 million customers, is a pillar of the German banking industry and a major force in the German economy. As the central organization of the cooperative banking group, the BVR (Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken), functions as a promoter of, representative for, and a strategic partner of its members. [bvr]
The Volksbank comes in a double sim presence, first of which is the Orientantion Island and the second one is the main sim. The main sim holds the VR Marktplatz (market) and VR Finanzlounge (finance lounge), which is built like a typical smalltown city center.
The Volksbank has a different approach to their presence than most other real life companies have, which is good. Most corporate sims are empty spaces, with only their own private little corporate build. Alongside the marketplace however, we find various shops, inworld, Second Life based boutiques. Also the Volksbank has set up a Real Estate agent at the corner of the marketplace, which offers building tips for building in Second Life. I think this is a very good crossover, as real estate products and real estate financing are closely tied in with the core products of a bank.
While exploring the sim I ran into two Volksbank teammembers, Alexander Auerbach and teamleader Pedro Barbosa, who kindly gave me some background information. The Volksbank presense is mainly a research project which is not directly focussed on doing actual banking business in Second Life, but in getting in touch with their clients. They want to collect experience which can help them improve their services and consultancy. They do want to find out though how far one can go in 'vermittlung', consultancy in an environment like this.
Their Second Life presence will a place to meet new customers, but since finance is a very private business, follow ups will have to be done the old fashioned way, with visits to your local bank. The lack of privacy was also one of the reasons ABN Amro moved over to Active Worlds.
They were quick to point out that the presence isn't finished yet, and were still working on filling in some details. The concept for the sim was made by people from GAD, a calculating center for banks and a member of the Volksbank cooperation. Also cooperative banks like the geno-verband Stuttgart and Rheinisch-Westfälischer Genossenschaftsverband participate in this build, which are both part of the Volksbank coop as well. The concept developed by GAD was checked with a Second Life agency though to see if it would hold up, but the build was entirely done with own employees.
Here's two promo videos about the Volksbank presense in Second Life: