CFPB stresses risks in crypto-focused gaming, virtual worlds

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In a recent release, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned about the emerging risks associated with crypto-focused gaming.

The report“Banking in Video Games and Virtual Worlds,” highlights the agency’s concerns over scams and diminished consumer protections in video games and virtual worlds. As the intersection of virtual gaming and cryptocurrency grows, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) scrutiny underscores the potential pitfalls facing players in these digital realms.

The CFPB’s findings reveal that despite crypto-metaverses‘ lesser popularity compared to giants like Roblox, Second Life, or Fortnite, these platforms warrant attention due to their ability to facilitate the conversion of virtual assets into fiat currency through third-party trading platforms.

“While these crypto-asset virtual worlds are significantly less popular…they are important to note because of the prevalence of third-party crypto-asset trading platforms,” the agency said in the report.

Furthermore, the report indicates a growing interest among major virtual gaming world publishers to explore crypto-assets as a means for players to trade virtual items outside the game’s economy, potentially expanding the market’s reach and risk exposure.

In response to the evolving landscape, the CFPB has proposed a rule to tighten oversight of digital financial transactions. The proposed rule, dubbed “Defining Larger Participants of a Market for General-Use Digital Consumer Payment Applications,” seeks to bring larger nonbank companies, including those offering digital wallets and payment applications, under similar regulatory scrutiny as traditional financial institutions. However, critics claim the rule inappropriately claims jurisdiction over crypto.

The CFPB’s report and regulatory efforts come with growing concerns over the security of players’ assets in virtual gaming worlds. Consumers have reported hacking attempts, account theft, and loss of access to in-game assets, often with little support from gaming companies. The situation emphasizes the need for enhanced protections as more financial activities migrate to these digital platforms.

As the CFPB continues to explore its regulatory role in the crypto space, stakeholders like Alexander Grieve, government affairs lead at Paradigm, suggest that such reports could be a precursor to rulemaking, signaling a potential tightening of regulations around virtual economies and digital assets.

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