Ever since the global financial collapse of 2008, banks, currencies, and even governments seem to have gone down and down in our estimation – in fact, it’s quite possible that they have never before been held in such low regard.
First the public’s money was used to bail out the banks, then we were forced to accept record low interest rates, high inflation, and “austerity” as the norm.
This financial malaise has carried on for nearly a decade, but, luckily, the emergence of fintech and the disruption of services that it has wrought has suddenly put us all back in charge of our finances. Now it is the banks that must pander to our needs; now, if they slip up, we, the public, have options.
There are challenger banks like Monzo, or Starling Bank, digital investment platforms, such as Nutmeg; there is even an entirely new digital currency, bitcoin, based on decentralised blockchain “distributed ledger technology”.
But sometimes, the old ways are the best ways, and that is why a London based startup, Glint, is using its “bleeding edge” technology to offer customers the ability to own portions of gold bars, and make payments with them.
Glint sees it as the perfect blend of the old and the new. In times of financial hardship, savers have invariably resorted to gold, which is historically seen as a safe haven, holding its value thanks to its finite quantity, physical state, and the public’s perception of it. Gold, quite simply, never goes out of fashion.
But this being 2017, there is no requirement to physically hold a bar, or part of a bar of gold. Glint comes in the form of an iOS app, which can be used in conjunction with a Glint Mastercard to make any kind of everyday payment.
In fact, Glint allows its users to choose from a variety of fiat currencies, at the point of sale when making payments, with the underlying currency being either sterling, or gold – the price being determined by the live interbank rate.
Once they have passed AML and KYC checks, users initially deposit cash and are asked if they would like to switch to gold, which is held in a London Bullion Market Association Accredited Brink’s bank vault in Switzerland – and a small annual storage fee is charged.
Users can then spend their gold using their Mastercard, which is accepted almost everywhere, or even send physical gold to contacts via email, text, or bank transfer.
Glint is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The fintech firm’s CEO, Jason Cozens, explains the benefits:
“Everyone is familiar with gold as one of society’s oldest means of exchange, its universal acceptance, its reliability, its history as a store of wealth and as a means of underpinning the value of ‘paper’ currencies. Unlike ‘paper’ currencies gold can’t be wiped out, devalued or corrupted.”
In essence, Glint is a simple idea that is made workable thanks to modern technology, which can process and record payments in real time using interbank rates. Lloyds Banking Group are backing the startup, which has already raised £6.1 million of funding from venture capital firms and angel investors.
The Money Cloud View
Glint may be a niche service, but it plays upon our fears that banks are not as secure or reliable as they once were, and do not pay much interest, that currencies today have become dangerously volatile, and therefore our money may be safer stored in some other form – in this case, gold. Gold, if you like, is the old bitcoin – it exists outside of the banking system, and in theory, like bitcoin, it cannot be tampered with, without being anythign like as volatile.
For many of us who want to hold some of our assets outside of a traditional banking system that we now view with a certain amount of scepticism, whilst keeping it in a liquid form, Glint offers a viable solution.
Glint is an interesting blend of the old, gold, and the new, real time pricing at interbank rates. What’s not to like? It may be a little gimmicky, but in this day and age, many of us take comfort from knowing we have more than one option when it comes to storing and spending our hard earned cash.
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