Monday, September 29, 2008

Virtual Banking (17): Banca MPS

Banca MPS

Amidst all the turmoil on the financial markets I decided to see if there has been any chance in the status of a couple of banks I spotted a while ago in Second Life. The sim is called Banca MPS, which stands for Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SPA

"Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SPA (MPS) is the oldest surviving bank in the world. Founded in 1472 by the Magistrate of the city state of Siena, Italy, it has been operating ever since. Today it consists of approximately 1,800 branches, 28,000 employees and 4.5 million customers in Italy, as well as branches and businesses abroad. A subsidiary, MPS Finance, handles consumer finance.

Its headquarters in the Palazzo Salimbeni in Siena are host to a magnificent art collection and a large number of priceless historical documents spanning the centuries of its existence. However, this collection is not usually open to the public" [wikipedia]

On the sim you see a complex of buildings, in which nothing much happens. I've spotted this sim about a year ago and the evolution has been slow. Yet the the detail on the buildings is pretty good.

As I couldn't get in, I couldn't explore the buildings. However, I could peek through the opened doors allowing me to get a view of classical Italian paintings. I suspect this is the collection Wikipedia refers to. If the Real Life collection is not usually open to visitors, giving them a free entrance in Second Life would probably be a good thing. So why not open up folks?

In the Netherlands, Banca MPS is primarily known for acquiring Banca Antonveneta from Grupo Santander late 2007, which took over a part of the Dutch ABN Amro Bank, which in its turn had just aquired Antonveneta, making it the first non-italian takeover in the industry in Italy

(Okay, this is a soap... ABN AMRO was taken over by a trio of banks, aside from Santander, these were Barclays and Fortis. The latter of which is now being rescued by Belgian, Dutch and Luxemburgh governments and there are talks of selling the ABN Amro part again at a severe loss, most likely to the Dutch ING or French BNP Parisbas).

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Banca%20MPS/128/128/0

Banca Transylvania

The second bank on my list is Banca Transylvania, but this one is also closed for public. It has no neighbouring sims so I couldn't get any snapshots of that one. Hopefully someone can give me a few pointers.

SLURL http://slurl.com/secondlife/Banca%20Transylvania/128/128/0

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Walled Gardens of Second Life

In the past year and a half I've been exploring Second Life, mostly seeking out corporate sites. Most of these had maginificent builds, some were utterly disappointing. The general consensus though has been that no matter how beutiful the build, most of the companies haven't got a clue of what to do with a virtual world yet.

They have been marketing showcases for most, and a lot of these have already withdrawn from Second Life, such as Vodaphone, Pontiac / Motorati, Mercedes, ING and Wells Fargo, to name but a few. A number of these companies have withdrawn from virtual worlds completely, quite a number have moved on to a more private world as they figured their customers needed some privacy.

Quite a number of companies still continue to explore Second Life in relative privacy, with islands unaccesible to the general public. Among these are (to name just a few):

Also, a number of companies have come and gone almost without noticing, such as

  • Red Bull
  • Heineken
  • Shell

Which have had private islands, but no report exists on what they have been doing out there. The general idea is that thse companies have made it to Second Life and have explored the possibilities for inworld training and conferencing.

Ian Hughes, IBM's metaverse evangelist says:

"Second Life and its public nature make it a wonderful place to let people explore the potential of virtual worlds and human interaction there, which then leads to them understanding how they might apply the principles to inside or outside their enterprise. The need for privacy, the need to grow and understand, the need for a company to still act as a tribe of some sort if a common pattern.

When we started Eightbar back in 2006 it was with a private" island. It let my IBM colleagues join a public space but feel a bit of safety to experiement. That very quickly led to the need to have real privacy, internal virtual worlds as people very soon understood that they could communicate and gain value from avatar based meetings in virtual worlds over and above telecons and emails and even instant messaging.

At the same time that sparks off into a discussion of how can our business and our customers business reach their customers and partners in a public space. The two are similar, but different, an intranet in normal web terms has a very different purpose to an internet presense. Sometimes
the technology is even different. Also there are two diverging approaches to what an environment needs to do and they are based on the mix of communicating instrumented information (mirror worlds showing machine rooms, traffic problems in a real city etc) and emotional and human connection through expression (building, sharing, acting in a web2.0 open way, avatar customization)

Understanding these approaches will only help once people have experienced a connection of some sort at a personal level. Then the business ideas will flow. It still wont be for everyone, but most people are visual, and we live in a 3d space. We communicate non-verbally, sit next to people we know in RL and in virtual environments. Ignoring that and filtering it with telecons and IM is clearly restricing our potential. A little more about this is on Eightbar.com"

If you know more about these companies and what they have done in the Virtual World, would you please let us know what your experiences have been?

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

ING and ABN flee Second Life

Following American early adopters Wells Fargo, AOL and Pontiac, the Dutch exodus from Second Life has started. Banking corporation ING, who initiated the Our Virtual Holland sims are withdrawing from Second Life.... Destination unknown. Residents of the OVH are now trying to make the islands survive the departure and it looks like they will be able to keep the community alive. The ING HQ in Second Life has been torn down though.

The second Dutch banker in Second Life, ABN Amro, is said to be leaving as well. The Word on the street is that they're disappointed by the level of interactivity they've gotten in Second Life and are moving on to a dedicated world on the Active Worlds platform.

For many of us this won't be a big surprise. Many bankers have entered the world of Second Life in 2007, but few have been able to find a concept which comes close to their real world activities, even though virtual economies and in particular that of Second Life are among the fastest growing economies in the world.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

1st Metaverse Meetup - Amsterdam

At exactly 0.00 I returned from Amsterdam where I attended the first Metaverse Meetup (Amsterdam Edition) in "De Balie" which was initiated by Joja Dhara and Ze Moo.


As this was a first meetup, apropriately themed "Meet the Avatar", the most timeconsuming event was the introduction round, but on the other hand it was nice to know who was who. We saw representatives from several MDC's such as Jeroen Frans, Executive Director of the Vesuvius Group (the guys that brought us Google in SL), Damian Simmons of Lost in the Magic Forest (Content, Essent, Aegon) and Up the Vortex (blog), and on the corporate present there was 'moi' for Sogeti, and people from ING (Our Virtual Holland), KPN and Philips Design, researchers from EPN, bloggers like Roy Cassini from Digado and excellent freelancers such as Ollie Kubrick from Unreal Design.


And off course, Bart DutchX, Founder of the Dutch Echange was present. I seem to run into him at about every metaverse related event these days. The Linden Lab banking ban doesn't seem to affect his business, as it is still expanding and they're hiring new people and adding new payment methods continuously.


As it was the first meetup I won't do an assesment of the contents of the meetup, as it was primarily a networking event tonight. I hope we'll get to discuss hot metaversal topics in the future.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

25% of Global top 100 in SL

In June I wrote 30% of Dutch Top100 corporations in Virtual Worlds, listing the top Dutch companies in Second Life. Earlier this month though SLionheads' Timbo Urbanowicz did the math on the global top 100 companies.



Based upon the Top 100 Global Brands Scoreboard he checked to see which companies were in Second Life and concludes 20% of these Global brands have a presence in Second Life:

"Interbrand takes many ingredients into account when ranking the value of the
Best Global Brands. Even to qualifyfor the list, each brand must derive at least
a third of its earnings outside its home country, be recognizableoutside of its
base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data. "


1. Coca Cola

2. Microsoft

3. IBM

6. Toyota

7. Intel

10. Mercedes-benz

13. BMW

18. Cisco

25. Sony

29. Nike

31. Dell

42. Philips

43. Siemens

44. Nintendo

52. MTV

62. Amazon

69. Adidas

76. Reuters

81. ING

98. Nissan




Missing on this list are apple (33), SAP (34), eBay (48), Accenture (50) and BP (84) though, so it's closer to 25%.



Some, like Coca Cola and SAP only hold a small spot in Second Life, others such as IBM have a multble island presence and others (like eBay and BP) are still under cosntruction.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Virtual Banking (11): Crédit Agricole

There's another bank in Second Life, after BNP Paribas the second French Bank in SL is Credit Agricole. I've never heard from them other than that they're sponsoring one of the Tour de France teams, but that's about it.



Here's a little Wiki-knowledge on them:


"Crédit Agricole SA (CASA) (Euronext: ACA) is the largest banking group in France, second largest in Europe and the sixth largest in the world by Tier 1 capital according to The Banker magazine. It is also part of the CAC 40 stock market index.

Crédit Agricole SA is a semi co-operative bank, being majority owned by 41 French Caisses Régionales de Crédit Agricole Mutuel. Its subsidiaries are:

  • Calyon, the investment banking division of Crédit Agricole.
  • Calyon Financial, global futures and options brokerage serving institutional investors.
  • LSA, the Asian securities brokerage division.
  • Predica and Pacifica, the insurance divisions
  • LCL (Previously Crédit Lyonnais), the nationwide retail banking network, acquired in 2003.


Okay, enough of the promo. We understand they're pretty big in Real Life. But I'm not sure they're big in SL yet. Their focus, like ING, is not on banking in this virtual world, or establishing a presence but on collaboration, mutualism as one of their hosts, Caliel Writer told me.






The Institute for Mutualism (have to watch typos here or it'll get mutilated) also exists in the Real World, though this isn't a replica.

Other parts of the sim are the boat, which is a part of history, space to set up future franchises and a piece of nature "where we can relax and which we should save and cherish" according to Caliel.





I'm by far too exited on getting out some new info on Rezzable, so I'll keep this short. I have to, since I logged out of SL so fast I forgot to save my transcript of the conversation with the kind Caliel. For more info, read Ambling in Second Life's Credit to Crédit Agricole.



One last remark though that should be mentioned. Right now everything is in French, but they're working on getting out the info in English as well.



SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/CREDIT%20AGRICOLE/119/150/23

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More Dutch Business in VW

Earlier this week I reported on the EPN survey that nearly 30% of the Dutch Top100 corporations is immersed in some virtual world or another, most of them Second Life, some in There.com, some in Why Robbie Rocks and some elsewhere. This seemed to be a highly bloggable item as the numbers rapidly got picked up around the globe. Many people would like to push those numbers to their management, using it as a stick to prod.

Today the e-mag Z24 is reporting a somewhat more negative view to things:
(a liberal translation)

Dutch Companies looking for Success in Second Life


Dutch Business isn't digging SL. With a lot of effort you can find 27 Dutch
companies in SL and the Dutch offices are empty, why do companies keep investing
in this medium?

The ABN sim sees about 70 to 80 visitors daily, but the numbers are falling
back, in the early days it was an average of 100.

Visitors of Second Life are an interesting targetgroup for companies, it is
a group that is close to new technology development and is very active at normal
internet as well. According to the official stats, Second Life now sees about
280.000 registered Dutch accounts.

During the mediahype in the first quarter of 2007, companies have plunged
headfirst into secondlife, with the immersion promising an enormous amount of
media exposure, but visitors kept away. Slowly the insigh comes that a mere
presence is not enough, companies have to look for added value.

Okay, nothing new here, this is what the blogs have been preaching for ages already ;). The rest of the article is on Randstand, Our Virtual Holland and 0031, so I'll skip that.

The Dutch work at home

The next report on the Z24 page reads that 1 in 5 Dutchmen regularly work from home, which is the hightest rate internationally. Could this be the source of the relative high participation levels of Dutch companies in Virtual Worlds?

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Virtual Banking (7): DNB Bank Norway

Another international Bank has opened up shop in Second Life, this time it's the Norwegian DNB, not to be confused with the Dutch national bank, also called DNB.

After ABN AMRO, ING (The Netherlands), Wirecard (Germany) and Saxo (Denmark) this is the fifth major European finance company coming to Second Life (with BNP Paribas still in development)

The sim starts of with a neat 3D model of the sim (very popular these days), which is devided into several smaller islands. The overall theme is summertime Norway, as I'm told by one of the freelancers who worked at this build. A main feature is the auditorium (right) which is a good build.

The second main build is a hovering globe -which is quite low on textures - and though most of the sim is bilingual (Norwegian and English), this was solely Norwegian, so I can't give you the full monty on this.
Then there's a small terras showing the Nobel-Peace-prize winners and a series of gazebo's intended as learning centers.
Throughout the sim various Norwegianish things appear, like sunken ships, swimming orca's, campsite, windsurf and diving spots, small fishingboats etcetera.
The build is developed by a company called Design Container, working with several Freelancers. This makes up for several degrees of quality in the build, some are neatly texturised, others are a bit low on textures (pic left, the gallery), or have a few textures askew. The DNB NOR car (right) is very primitive.
In the pic below an example of where it's neatly done, even tidal influences are considered in this build (left). The other one, an ancient worship tree is a little buggy in the script (right).

All in all I must say that the overall quality of the build varies enormously, and also the theme is too unfocussed. It's a bit of everything and I'm not sure where the root of this problem lies. It could well be that DNB Nor didn't have a fixed idea of what they intend to do in Second Life, or there was a basic plan that saw several ideas gone wild because of working with too many different freelancers.

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30% of Dutch Top100 corporations in Virtual Worlds

Nearly 30% of the Top100 companies in the Netherlands are actively engaged in virtual worlds, as a recent EPN survey shows.

Of these 100 companies, 48 participated in the quickscan and they show that:
  • 60% see added value to internal communication
  • 52% see added value in training and branding
  • 45% see added value to external activities such as cocreation and staffing.
  • 66% say that it is still hard to get access to the right people
  • 50% see the stability of Second Life as a threat

And some say that they see Linden Labs as an unpredictable factor.

I'm not sure which companies but here's a few in Second Life:
  • ABN AMRO
  • ING
  • Philips
  • Heineken
  • Randstad
  • Content
  • Aegon
I'm wondering where the others are... please let me know ;)

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

SL Merger: Dropzone & Virtual Holland

There has been a continental drift in the Holland sector of Second Life as ING's "Our Virtual Holland" and Talpa's "Drop Zone" have merged to form what may be the beginning of a new continent... but are a fair mass at 17 sims right now.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ING Formula 1

ING’s first-ever global marketing campaign was launched on March 15, timed to coincide with the first Formula One (F1) Grand Prix race of the season in Melbourne, Australia. ING was the title sponsor for the race and and is the main sponsor of the world champion Renault team.

The Dutch bankers that brought us Virtual Holland are lining up their Formula 1 team in Second Life. Again they looked abroad to source this job. Rivers Run Red must have made a good impression as they're onto this one as well.

The team’s SL build will “put enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike behind-the-scenes with a championship-winning Formula 1 team. The experience is designed to take them closer to the dedication, technological excellence and teamwork required to achieve Formula 1 success, alongside a number of unique interactive virtual experiences.” according to a spokesperson.

Right, ING's a banker, not a 'createur d'automobiles' so obviously it's an entry for Renault as well. The French aren't too SL savvy I think, since I haven't heard Renault make mention of this entry... and I'm a Renault driver ;)

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Rivers Run Red

Rivers Run Red was the world's first agency to establish a working presence within a virtual world. RRR has been active in Second Life since 2003. In meatspace the company has offices in London and San Fran.

Projects include Vodafone, Philips, ING, Reebok, Adidas, Calvin Klein (CKin2U), Heineken, BBC, Channel 4, Penguin, Duran Duran and Radio 538. It's surprising to see how many Dutch client the company has. Since 2007 the RRR faces serious competition with new native Dutch virtual builders such as [lost in the] Magic Forest, Damanicorp and SLionhead.

Aside from their corporate website RRR runs the Space Think Dream thingy as an extra outlet of their works.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Virtual Banking (2): ING and Our Virtual Holland

At the Media Plaza Second Life seminar Gertjan Kaaij, Business Innovator of the ING held a presentation about ING in Second Life.... well, not exactly. The Dutch baking and insurance company ING they started cruising the virtual worlds in late 2006, but did not see a ROI on short term.

So there wasn't a big ING hit to launch, then what else to do? For the time being, ING uses SL mainly as a branding medium. They've hired Rivers Run Red to build a region of sims called "Our Virtual Holland"


The plan is for Our Virtual Holland to evolve into a virtual mini-state, and to this end they have been offering free parcels of land to would-be residents. Don't all rush to the website though - the offer closed on 21st March. Rather than churn out all the details here, I would refer you to this page of their website, which tells you everything you need to know (if not, try their FAQ). As is usual with SL that magic word for 2007, "Innovation", looms large. I will be interested to see what emerges. Certainly the pittoresque windmills will add to that innovative spirit...


At the moment ING is working with partners like the Rijksmuseum to add some spirit to the sims.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Holland/128/128/0
Pictures kindly provided by Sir Aleister Kronos

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