Downtime: Funny money

Downtime still doesn't know what to make of the trend towards banking services being offered inside virtual reality worlds.

High street banks cross the virtual divide

Downtime still doesn't know what to make of the trend towards banking services being offered inside virtual reality worlds.

Entropia Universe, an online science fiction game with 500,000 members and an annual turnover of £82m, is to auction five virtual licences to allow banks to set up real world banking systems in its cyber universe.

The licences will enable the banks to offer secure banking services for members of Entropia, and they will also be able to design and name their own virtual bank buildings and virtual personnel.

All very nice. But Downtime only hopes all these virtual openings aren't meant to make up for the fact that half of the bank branches on our local high streets have now morphed into restaurants and wine bars, leaving us all increasingly at the mercy of call centre staff and dodgy internet connections.


Close your barn doors, figuratively speaking

New year, new wave of attempts to induce panic about the risk of commercial espionage or, to the rest of us, data being nicked by staff.

Two press releases have hit Downtime's desk this month, both piggy-backing on research last year by YouGov, which found that 29% of company directors have knowingly taken their employer's sensitive information when leaving a job. And that's just the ones that are prepared to admit to it.

The first release uses the research to promote some technology from security firm Takeware, whose managing director Barry James colourfully warns that what is going on is "the electronic equivalent of the barn doors being left wide open, day and night, just about every working day".

Downtime is not sure whether that particular simile quite works, but it is a decent effort.

And we are even more taken with NTA Monitor's stab, which warns that less-than-flattering year-end staff appraisals could induce a flood of unhappy underachievers looking for new jobs and helping themselves to whatever data they can lay their hands on.

As you might expect, Roy Hills, technical director at NTA, is firmly of the opinion that it is no good relying on people's better nature when it comes to company data.

"Businesses need to implement tighter security policies and not rely on the ethics of an employee," he said.

Time to batten down the hatches, it seems.

Having a sneaky bet at the office is a sure thing

Downtime is admittedly a little old-fashioned, but we cannot help wondering whether unfettered internet access for all office workers is the force for universal good we are led to believe.

After all, it means that a large chunk of the country's workers face the constant distraction of their favourite sporting action being only a click or two away. That is bad enough, you might think, but research suggests that not only are office staff watching sport at work, but a good proportion are also betting on it.

According to an excessively accurate estimate by Morse, which commissioned the research, online gambling is costing businesses £306,236,140 a year. No, Downtime isn't quite sure how it came up with the figure either.

When Tony Blair fervently told us back in 1997 that Britain had to be at the forefront of the information age, office workers spending a good part of their working day placing sneaky bets on Frank Lampard to score first in Chelsea's game against Villa and the like is surely not what he had in mind.


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