Posts Tagged virtual worlds

FarmVille insurance

Not that long ago, I asked the question: What role will actuaries and risk analysts play in virtual economies?

I may get an answer much sooner than I expected. Insurance Journal reports that Farmers Insurance is now offering coverage in FarmVille, a “virtual world” game within Facebook:

When players place the Farmers Airship on their farm, they receive free “wither protection” for the crops on their virtual farm. In a nod to the security that Farmers Insurance offer its customers, this protection means players crops won’t wither for the 10 days of the promotion.

But if you’re an actuary that wants to start pricing virtual goods and services, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. This first take appears to be mostly a marketing campaign – an effort to draw attention to the Farmers Facebook page.

But still, it’s a start.

Hat tip to Claude Penland for sharing a link to this story.

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What role will actuaries and risk analysts play in virtual economies?

In August, Google acquired a social currency company called Jambool.

“Social currency,” you ask? Here’s a little bit from the press release:

Social Gold has grown by leaps and bounds since it went live in 2008. In the first half of 2010, we’ve processed more than double the entire payment volume we processed in all of 2009. And we’ve welcomed hundreds of developers to our platform. The fact that our highest revenue day was in the last week attests to the continued growth of online gaming.

Our vision is to build world-class products that help developers manage and monetize their virtual economies across the globe. When the opportunity arose to join forces with Google to execute against this vision, we couldn’t pass it up. We are thrilled to bring the Social Gold platform to Google’s global users. And we invite you – our customers, partners, and friends – to continue on the journey with us.

The fact that Google acquired Jambool could be a telling indicator. It likely means that Google—one of the biggest tech powerhouses on the planet and arguably the controler of the largest information hub in the world—believes that social currencies have promise.

As online gaming, virtual worlds, and other virtual experiences become increasingly popular, it makes sense that companies like Jambool would step in to help create mediums of exchange in these new worlds.

It’s impossible to say where all this is headed, but just imagine for a moment that large-scale virtual economies emerge, and virtual goods and services are traded in high-volume, complex markets.

Who will analyze the risks in these new economies?

The skill set of actuaries and other risk professionals should extend well in these new virtual spaces.

Some would argue that our own, “real” currency is already virtual.  And in many ways it is. So don’t be too quick to write off these “realities.” Instead, think about how you can play a role.

Please share your thoughts on virtual economies in the comments.

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