A new study by the World Bank Group’s infoDev program shows that virtual online currencies and digital work now provide real income opportunities to poor and unskilled workers in developing countries.
infoDev is a global technology and innovation-led development finance program of the World Bank and IFC. The new study, Knowledge Map of the Virtual Economy, finds that more than 100,000 people in countries such as China and India earn a living through online games and websites disseminating micro-tasks.
Jobs in the virtual economy include micro-tasks like categorizing products in online shops, moderating content posted to social media sites, or even playing online games on behalf of wealthier players who are too busy to tend to their characters themselves. The study estimates that the market for such gaming-for-hire services was worth $3 billion in 2009, and it suggests that with suitable mobile technologies even the least-developed countries could benefit from this emerging virtual economy.
This study was funded by United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).