To facilitate the buying and selling of shares, EVE players have created advanced web-based stock market tools which are used with the in-game browser. The two main stock markets at the moment are the EVE Galactic Stock Exchange (EGSEx) and the Real-time EVE Stock Exchange (RESx). Both of these stock markets are considered trustworthy and act as middle-men for buying and selling shares.
Unlike in real life, EVE's fiscal year is the calendar month. Monthly dividends have become the market standard and the most attractive offers are those which promise a 5-10% per month return. The types of offering are varied, from shares giving dividends based on corporate profit to fixed-term bonds that offer a flat monthly rate. Unfortunately, with a lot of the most trustworthy businesses closing shop and a recent spate of small-time investment scams, good shares aren't too easy to come by at the moment.
When the Tech 2 blueprint lottery ended, a new system called Invention was introduced to take its place. Invention allows players to create limited run tech 2 blueprints using a tech 1 blueprint and items called datacores. These datacores are obtained from R&D agents in exchange for research points. To get research points with an agent, all you have to do is train the relevant science skill (such as Quantum Physics) and talk to him to start a research project. From then on, you'll get research points free every day. You can earn double the normal research points each day by completing a special mission but in general it's not worth the effort.
Since you gain research points each day for free, you can start a research job and leave it for months before collecting your datacores and selling them on the market. With level 4 in the science skill your agent is using, you can hope to make over 20 million ISK each month from selling the datacores from one good agent. The Research Project Management skill allows you to use one more R&D agent per level, increasing the maximum potential earnings to over 120 million ISK per month. Having two characters on an account trained to do this will generate enough ISK to pay for the account with game time codes.
Like any agent, good R&D agents require fairly high standings to use. The best way to find compatible R&D agents is to use an agent-finding website such as EVE-Agents or Hidden Agenda. Open your character sheet in-game and open the standings section. In the "liked by" tab you can see what your standings are with the various factions and corporations which have agents. To use good level 4 R&D agents, you'll need a standing of 6.0 or greater with the corporation or faction in question. For example, having 6.9 Gallente Federation faction standing or higher will allow you to to use the very best R&D agents from all corporations within the federation, regardless of your standings with the individual corporations.
In its history, EVE has had several major attempts to create a stable player-run bank. The most notable example of them to date was the EVE Investment Bank (EIB) which later turned out to be a huge scam. The owner Cally claimed to use the bank's funds to make a profit and promised members monthly interest payments. Once invested ISK reached a certain level, he announced that there was no money-making scheme behind the bank and he was keeping the bank's entire wallet.
Although the EIB scam put players off the idea of an EVE bank for a long time, entrepreneur Ricdic eventually decided to launch his own bank. E-Bank has since taken off superbly and has expanded its staff to include an entire board of directors, a number of bank tellers and several web-development and consultant staff. EBank offers 1.5% per month interest in its checking accounts and 3% per month in savings accounts. Unlike a standard investment scheme, EBank actually makes its money by investing in a large number of businesses and offering loans at a relatively high rate of 10-15% monthly interest. The bank now has over 2400 users with a total of over 800 billion ISK spread across over 6000 accounts.
Rental agreements and Services:
A number of real-world services are allowed to be traded for ISK and offering these services for a recurring fee can make a substantial income. Website hosting, teamspeak/ventrillo server rental and killboard hosting are all regular services that you can charge ISK for. If you happen to have a teamspeak or ventrillo server that currently goes unused, you could be turning it into as much as 100 million ISK per month.
In addition to real world goods, in-game rental services also carry a pricetag. Perhaps the ultimate in passive income is a rental agreement with another player or corporation. Large PvP alliances often hold prime areas of 0.0 space and rent access to the space out to smaller corporations for a monthly or weekly fee. The income from this can be huge, with some large corporations handing over billions each month for access to just a handful of good systems. This isn't the only type of rental agreement that can work in EVE. If you have any original blueprints that you aren't using, you might find that someone who can't afford their own blueprint is willing to rent yours.
Rental agreements on Tech 2 or researched capital ship blueprints can make excellent money but the proper precautions must be taken to prevent people stealing your valuables. Rather than simply giving the blueprints to your renter, you can have them locked down in a corporate office. This allows the renter to use the blueprints without letting him take them. To lock down a blueprint for renting, it is advised that you make a new character who can create a new corporation. This character will have to rent an office at a convenient location and put the blueprints inside. The blueprints should then be locked down by vote and the renter can join the corporation.
Unlike in other MMOs, there are a whole host of ways to make money in EVE with little to no effort. If you're planning on letting your account expire for a while, buying into some good investment schemes or putting your ISK into an EBank account could be a very wise move.