Virtual money poses a real threat

By Wang Xing and Wang Shanshan (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-26 09:27

Q coin holders have their own accounts at Q banks. They can buy the virtual coins from Tencent's official website for 1 yuan (13 US cents) per coin, or from online vendors at about half the price.

They mainly use Q coins to buy virtual goods, like weapons in online games, and sometimes real-world items such as CDs and cosmetics.

However, in the online black market, these coins are also being converted back into cash. Evidence of the prevalence of these cyber space exchanges has even show up in court, where the number of cases involving online property has grown in the past two years.

In one extreme case last year, an online gamer in Shanghai killed another player who had taken his cyber-weapon, called a Dragon Sabre in the popular online game Legend of Mir III, and sold it for 7,200 yuan (US$871).

The gamer almost forfeited his real-world life for doing so when he was handed a death sentence with a two-year reprieve.

Still, Tencent spokeswoman Catherine Chan said in a written statement that the company's virtual money did not pose a threat to the real-world economy.

Q coins were created to work as tokens for the consumption of the company's online services, and the Q coin "is definitely not a currency," she said.

"We do not have a mechanism to facilitate these operations (Q coins being exchanged into RMB) and we are also against the transaction of Q coins solicited via dubious operations," she added.

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