We've witnessed the arrival of a number of banks and financial institutions in Second Life, plus the departure of one - Wells Fargo having decamped to Active Worlds. At the tail-end of last year it was Dutch banks, but the last 3 months has seen the arrival of the French banks. I've been a bit slow off the mark picking up on this one - Credit Agricole.
Credit Agricole (please excuse the absence of accents!) is the largest banking group in France, and second largest in Europe, so their arrival in Second Life is hardly insignificant. As far as I can tell, they've been here since April 2007, but latterly they have expanded their presence, which now stands at 5 sims. As is usually the case with me, I stumbled upon the build by accident and went to have a look.
The main sim has 3 principal features:
- A boat - "Le Jules Meline" - is a museum in memory of Jules Meline, the inventor of "mutualism". This at least is the information given on the island, though the Wikipedia entry suggests otherwise. There is a lot of information in French about Mr Meline on the boat, which is a fairly straightforward construction. The textures are not particularly rich or engaging, giving it a rather dull, lifeless feel in my view. There is a piano on the forward deck, presumably for use in intimate soirees.
- "Le Cafe Mutualiste" is a reproduction of their first local branch at Poligny, in the Jura. It is kitted out as an informal meeting area, with comfortable seating inside and out. Again, the textures are rather plain, giving it a flat, dull feeling. However, there is a lot of artwork inside - mainly pictures made in SL - which bear further inspection.
- Finally, there is a modern building which provides a rich source of information about Credit Agricole, and is evidently the "business centre" for the sim. I've noticed with French builds - and this is no exception - that there is a tendency to bombard you with information from large numbers of panels and billboards. It is good to have this amount of information, but i do feel it could be scaled back a little. Perhaps rather than use a large number of static displays, why not use a smaller number of dynamic displays, in which the information is cycled every few seconds. This would give them more space, and thus more of a sense of space. Just a thought...
There are several smaller buildings on the sim, but I could not discern their purpose. Ironically perhaps, these lesser buildings actually use far richer textures and have a much better 3D feel.
The other sims in the presence are given over to different "big themes", such as Nature or The Future. These look failrly new and are in different stages of readiness. As you can see from the last picture, some structures are still at the "plywood texture" stage.
I do not have a view on the bank's intentions for Second Life. However, I read a French blog (that of David Castera) that suggests the reason the bank is here is that they see web3.D being with us in, say, 4 years and recognise the need to get in early and start experimenting. They also want to bring the concepts of Mutualism to a Second Life audience. Beyond that, my French was not really up to the job, and Google translation was more Zen-like than useful. If I interpret this right though, the build has been done by a company/group called stonfield InWorld.
It's not a build with a high wow factor, but it is a welcome addition to the financial presences in Second Life.