It looks like Dutch banking giant ING will be joining the legions of smaller (and in some cases, somewhat shady) financial institutions in leaving the virtual world of Second Life. However, unlike some of its counterparts in the virtual world, the move is not the result of financial insolvency. Rather, ING says the decision was driven by its desire to better concentrate on its acquisition of Postbank.The bank will shutter its cyber doors by March 1 after being in operation for one year. According to a post on its Second Life site-Our Virtual Holland-developing a virtual world isn't quite conducive to ING's acquisition plans. It does, however, seem to hint that it might return one day.
ING's departure from Second Life may be an indication that banks are still trying to figure out just how to grasp onto Web 2.0 services. It's a tricky concept to master and is still a relatively new area for financial institutions. There are efforts other than those involving Second Life around Web 2.0 that have seen mixed results, such as blogs or pages on social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook. Banks still are learning.
Personally, I've always been skeptical of FIs' Web 2.0 initiatives. Where's the need? Are they trying to attract the next generation of customers? I certainly don't think older generations (30 years-old, plus) will flock to a bank's blog (unless it's to complain about something). And really, unless you're a marketing genius, how can you make a bank's Facebook page "cool" enough for it to become a destination for Gen Y?
Feel free to share your views. Is Web 2.0 worth banks' time?