Filed Under: Money, Payment systems

Just popping out to get some gold

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[Dave Birch] As the Bitcoin mania continues to evolve and the price of gold continues to fall, I am surely not the only person to have noticed an overlap between the people who want to use both of them to replace the, as they see it, broken system of fiat currencies. Given that almost the entire population of the world have never heard of Bitcoin, and wouldn’t understand it even if they had, it is I suppose unsurprising that in these difficult economic times, finding new ways to use gold has become the more widespread focus for innovation. For example, starting a couple of years ago, there were a flurry of stories about gold-dispensing ATMs. Here is an example from Turkey.

Thus far, all 64 Kuveyt Turk ATMs installed in Istanbul have been upgraded to offer 1 and 1.5 gram ingots of gold bullion as well as banknotes. The bank has contracted with Wincor Nixdorf to retrofit the facility to its national network of 180 machines by year end… The mini gold bars are not dispensed through the banknote output chute, but via a special coin output module that is retrofitted to the ATM. The gold bullion is packed inside a transparent plastic coin roughly the same size as a two-euro coin.

[From Finextra: Turkish bank retrofits ATMs to dispense gold ingots]

While I can’t imagine any reason to use one of these, the fact is that there’s quite a few of them around. I understand there are some specific cultural reasons for people wanting to stick gold under the bed instead of euros, but I’m unconvinced it is good economics. I guess also that I just don’t move in the right circles.

Germany’s TG-Gold-Super-Markt installed a gold bar dispensing ATM in the lobby of Abu Dhabi’s five star Deluxe Emirates Palace hotel last year, and outlined plans to roll out 500 of the machines in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

[From Finextra: Turkish bank retrofits ATMs to dispense gold ingots]

In the US, too, a similar inexplicable development.

In the US, PMX Gold has set up a banking division with the aim of introducing gold dispensing ATMs nationide follow a pilot run at a shopping mall in Boca Raton, Florida, that saw $270,000.00 in gold sales dispensed through one machine in roughly two and one half months

[From Finextra: Turkish bank retrofits ATMs to dispense gold ingots]

I really don’t get it. Why would anyone mess about with physical gold that you can drop, lose, have stolen etc. And I bet it’s hard to buy anything from Amazon with it. I’m more than happy for people to send me gold (you’re welcome to try the experiment) but generally speaking I’d prefer the dematerialised version sent to my Goldmoney account. As an aside, Forum friend James Turk from Goldmoney will be at the PaymentsForward breakfast briefing on alternative currencies in the City (of London) on July 1st. As will I. Meanwhile, as noted, the Turkish case isn’t all about transactions costs and economic efficiency.

The bank says it wants to become Turkey’s leading retailer of gold to consumers, where demand is driven by the local tradition of investing savings in gold and making gifts of gold on the birth of children and at weddings.

[From Finextra: Turkish bank retrofits ATMs to dispense gold ingots]

Aha. It isn’t really about payments at all. People carrying gold bars are not carrying them as an alternative to a debit card.

The suspect was arrested shortly before boarding a Lufthansa flight for Germany, according to authorities. An inspection by customs officials reportedly revealed that his luggage contained 7,185 kilograms of gold and 293,435 euros in cash. The same suspect is believed to have attempted to smuggle out another bag containing 425 kilograms of silver.

[From ekathimerini.com | German held for trying to smuggle ton of gold, silver out of Greece]

If you travel first class and are a premium member of the frequent flyer club, you still only get 128Kg.

4 bags up to 32 kg each

[From Lufthansa ® – Free baggage allowance for tickets issued with effect from 1 June 2012]

Not very forward thinking of our German friend. Maybe his scales weren’t working properly. I’m sure he was moving his bullion out of Greece for entirely legitimate reasons and I don’t doubt for a moment that it had been earned through entirely legal means and that all appropriate taxes had been paid. But in case you are interested in using gold for criminal purposes, I’d advise you to stick to the virtual stuff. Much safer.

No way to determine if gold you buy is from “legitimate” sources, not “account cleaning”… After cleaned, account is sold to gold spammers used for spam until banned

[From Annotated Chinese Gold Farmer Interview via Markee Dragon – PlayNoEvil – Game Security, IT Security, and Secure Game Design Services – Contact Us at ceo@secureplay.com]

Mining virtual gold and using it smuggle value across borders seems to me to be far simpler, and far less likely to result in arrest, than using the real thing.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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