We’ve covered a lot of different cryptocurrency exchanges here on Coinlist.me, and this is the first time we’ll talk about a platform that isn’t really about Bitcoin at all. That’s right. VirWox is all about Second Life. Since 2007, the web platform has been facilitating all sorts of economics and community services surrounding the popular alternate reality video game.
For those who don’t know, Second Life is a game where people create avatars of themselves, or of selves they wish to portray in the digital world. The game is very open-ended. You can be an artist, start a cult, fly like a superhero, really anything you want. And all of the other players are real human beings like yourself, all enjoying a…Second Life.
Most of us haven’t thought about Second Life in awhile, if we ever knew about it at all, but the game is very much alive for thousands of players around the world. So complex is the Second Life universe, that it has its own money: Second Life Lindens. And this is where the story starts getting interesting for Bitcoin users.
Before we move on, practically speaking VixVox is a curiosity, not so much a practical way to buy Bitcoin in 2018. It works, but there are easier and cheaper ways. We’ll still describe the process one would use to buy Bitcoin via VirWox, but we’ll also outline some excellent alternatives, like eToro, which will likely be useful to a lot more people.
What in the World is VirWox?
To its credit, VirWox was a seller of one of the world’s first true digital currencies, the Second Life Linden. The Linden is an integral part of the economy of Second Life, and is necessary for all kinds of options and user-created content. Creative people within the Second Life community have created digital assets that add fun and flair to the game, and this has become a true cottage industry.
VirWox was one of the first formalized ways by which Second Life Lindens could be traded against real world currency, like US Dollars, Euros, Swiss Franks, and British Pounds Sterling. For US Dollar users, the transaction is made using Paypal. Once the Linden are fully purchased and available on VirWox, they can then be traded directly for Bitcoin.
VirWox enabled Bitcoin purchases in 2011, making it one of the earliest Bitcoin exchanges of any sort. Among Bitcoin exchanges still up and running, it is very nearly the oldest. Back in 2011, almost nobody knew what Bitcoin was, and those who did might struggle to figure out how to buy it. VirWox represented an novel workaround – a way to buy the still unknown and experimental digital currency that has now taken over the world.
Today, VirWox offers very little in the way of value to Bitcoin customers. It’s a very expensive way to transact, and there are simply too many other exchanges which will allow users to buy Bitcoin directly. Some Second Life mavens who get paid in Lindens like to trade this income directly to Bitcoin, so we don’t see this exchange option going away anytime soon. But for the most part, if you don’t already know and use VixVox to buy Bitcoin, you probably don’t need to try it.
eToro – The More Versatile Modern Alternative
Nobody’s ragging on VirWox. It does what it does very well. Most people, however, just don’t need that service. So we’re going to briefly talk about how eToro offers more value to a greater number of Bitcoin investors than VirWox currently can. Again, VirWox is great at what it does. It’s just that it’s extremely niche.
eToro, however, is used by investors of all kinds, not just Bitcoin investors. eToro sells profit/loss rights in the form of CFDs, related to a handful of well-curated cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, EOS, NEO, Ethereum, and others). When users “buy” these coins, they do so at the current market price, but they don’t actually “own” the coins in question.
In fact, no one owns them. Users are essentially betting on the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If the price of Bitcoin goes up, you get all the profits associated with the amount of Bitcoin you “bought” with your contract, at the time you choose to close your contract. If Bitcoin is lower in value when you close your contract, you lose the difference from the funds you locked into the contract.
This is a convenient alternative to VixWox, because it doesn’t require users to use confusing methods that could result in the loss of their funds, if they mess up or something with VixWox goes wrong. eToro’s prices are the same as any conventional exchange’s price. If you want to “buy” $5,000 in Bitcoin, you pay $5,000 just like you would on Binance. The difference is that nothing actually changes hands.
This requires you to put some trust in eToro, but fortunately eToro is well regulated and has an excellent reputation in the industry. VixWox might have been founded in 2007, but eToro was founded in 2006! Of course, it wasn’t trading cryptocurrencies back then (Bitcoin wasn’t invented yet), but it was well established in the securities industry, and when cryptocurrency become popular, it was quickly added to eToro.
Try eToro if you want a way to buy Bitcoin with USD, you don’t want to risk storage and transfers, and you only plan to use Bitcoin (or the other coins supported by the platform) as an investment. Of course, because no digital coins actually change hands, you won’t be able to spend Bitcoin. If you just want to profit in US Dollars from your sagacious investment decisions, eToro is the perfect solution for you.
VixWox might still be a practical method of exchange, or at least a novel one to break up the monotony, but it simply costs way too much to be a reasonable solution. VixWox fees are a little confusing…OK, very confusing. Rather than trying to suss out the details from VirWox’s sprawling and disorganized documentation, let’s take a look at the experience of /u/idlestabilizer from Reddit:
“I just played it through with 20$ now as I was curious about the effective fees. Here’s the transaction chain:
Pay 20$ with Paypal (Virwox fees: 0.35€ (or 0.39$) + 3.4%)
Balance upon receipt on Virwox: 19.02 $
Sell 19$ for SLL: 4366 SLL (Fees: 50SLL + 2,9%)
Sell 4366SLL for BTC: 0.061 BTC (Fees: 50SLL + 2.9%)
Withdraw BTC (Fee: 0,005 BTC)
Receive 0.056 BTC on my wallet (Coinbase 15.20$)
Seen on bitcoin network within 1 Minute after starting the withdrawal on Virwox. Of course this was a small amount so fees are relatively higher than if you converted 200$. But still, they are extremely high.”
Yikes! That is high. As Idle acknowledged, these almost 25% fees would not be so outlandish if larger balances were being exchanged, but this is nonetheless the highest fee structure we know of for the trading of Bitcoin. It just doesn’t make sense in 2018.
Some internet denizens have used the VirWox fees to try to suggest that some kind of VirWox scam is going on. In reality, VirWox is not a scam. The high fees help to make up for the isolated events when users chargeback their payment through Paypal. In a case like this, VirWox would lose Bitcoin, then not be paid for it. High fees have the same function as high interest does for credit card companies: everybody pays high rates to cover the times when individual users don’t pay at all.
So the high VirWox fees do have a purpose, but this knowledge doesn’t make the fees any more affordable. We therefore can only recommend VixWox to people who have income from the Second Life video game. While this might sound like a small segment of society, VixWox has over 750,000 registered users. So don’t underestimate it as a method for changing fiat into crypto.
VixWox and LocalBitcoins
VirWox is such an unusual and old-fashioned-seeming Bitcoin purchase method, it somewhat recalls the unique service offered by LocalBitcoins. LocalBitcoins is a dedicated Bitcoin exchange. But it allows users to connect with other Bitcoin users who live in their area, for the anonymous trading of Bitcoin for cash.
LocalBitcoins users can use the platform to transact, along with the site’s essential escrow service, completely anonymously. Users have to take care to preserve the anonymity of the exchange, but it is possible, and more reliable than almost any other formalized network. VirWox is a similarly “off the grid” Bitcoin purchase method, but unlike LocalBitcoins it cannot promise anonymity. For users who want to get their Bitcoin without using centralized exchanges like Binance or Bittrex or Coinbase, we would highly recommend LocalBitcoins.
Is There a VirWox App?
There does exist a VirWox app, but it doesn’t allow for transactions of any kind. It’s only there to show you the current exchange rates of all currencies (digital and otherwise) that can be bought and sold using VirWox. It’s useful if you regularly use the platform, but doesn’t actually offer anything new that would make it relevant to anyone outside of the Seceond Life or video-game money communities.
Complaints About VirWox
You’ll see a lot of people complaining about VoxWox online, talking about VirWox scams and the like. In our limited experience, and more extensive research, we find no reason to think that VirWox is a scam. It’s a real placeholder in the avatar gaming community, and any scheming on the part of the owners would subvert their primary role as community members.
Admittedly, VirWox fees are high, but we’ve already explained why that happens. For those claiming to have lost funds, we’ve found VirWox to be pretty responsive to user complaints. These issues often result from user error. Fortunately, VirWox customer service seems to be good – much better than what you might find from your average crypto exchange, so these issues seem to be resolvable if the complaining party is willing to work with customer service.
VirVox Paypal and Other Options
If you find yourself in need of VirWox’s service, there are a number of ways you can fund your order for Bitcoin. VirWox credit card payments are an option, as well as PayPal, paysafecard, Skrill, or SOFORTbanking. VirWox neteller is no longer a payment option. Most users will simply use the Paypal or credit card option, but all the rest are verified and regularly used by the VirWox community.
Is VirWox Legit?
Even though “Is VirWox Legit” should be a question answered by what we’ve written so far, this is a common enough Google search term that we want to talk about it directly. We find no reason to think that a VirWox scam exists. Bitcoin trades are a peripheral service on VirWox, but the process is nonetheless above board and still used by many people as a way of turning their video game money into an asset that can be used in the real world.
Final Thoughts on VirWox
Its a shame that the process of VirWox is so expensive and arcane. While few Bitcoin investors will find reason to give VirWox a try, VirWox is nonetheless one of the most trustworthy Bitcoin exchanges there is. This springs from the fact that VirWox isn’t a Bitcoin exchange first; it’s a place that serves the video game economy of Second Life and the financial needs of its human players. It’s really cool for Second Life players to be able to trade virtual Lindens for real world assets like Bitcoin, or fiat currencies like USD.
Therefore, we can’t really say anything bad about VirWox. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and it does that well. Any for people who happen to be both Bitcoin users and Second Life obsessives, VirWox is the greatest thing since sliced bread. So let’s all celebrate this weird way to buy Bitcoin and, if we’re ever in a pinch, be willing to give it a try ourselves.