15 May 2007

Second Life

I have never explored Second Life, and don't have any particular desire to do so, my first life is keeping me more than busy, thank you. However, two stories about this cyberworld recently caught my eye. The first was the law firm, Field Fisher Waterhouse, has opened "an office" in Second Life. The second was that the authorities are concerned that Second Life, and other such communities, are being used to launder money - i.e. "virtual credits" are bought and then transferred back into another currency, disguising their original source or moving the money around outside the traditional banking system.

I am not sure if the concern is that serious, given that in order to buy credits, the dirty money needs to be in a bank account in the first place, and therefore (in theory at least) the bank would have completed money laundering checks on it. However, law firms cannot rely on the fact that their fees are paid out of a bank account, they have to undertake their own "know your customer" procedures and other anti-money laundering checks. Quite how FFW is proposing to take on virtual clients is therefore beyond me - the KYC procedures practically insist that you meet your customers face to face - and not in a virtual reality world. I guess it is a nice marketing gimmick for FFW to show that they are down wid da kidz, but may be they should make it clear that they will not take on any "virtual clients" in the near future?

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