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Updated January 24, Australia's biggest gold refiner, the Perth Mint, is developing its own cryptocurrency backed by physical precious metals. The ambitious plan, which is subject to a confidentiality agreement, will make it easier for consumers to buy gold. The mint also plans to make use of blockchain technology, first used as the core component of the digital currency Bitcoin , where it works as a public ledger for transactions. In the 10 years since its inception, blockchain has been used to track transactions in industries from agriculture to land registration and the music recording industry.
For the Perth Mint, the need to bring investors back to precious metals after a boom in alternative investments such as cryptocurrencies posed an opportunity, according to chief executive Richard Hayes. But Mr Hayes said the volatility of some of the current cryptocurrencies meant they did not suit all investors. Most digital currencies have no physical backing and are transferred from peer to peer, via a computer.
Mr Hayes said that made the prospect of offering a crypto-gold product even more exciting and possibly a world first. He said the aim was to provide a transparent offering that would allow investors to buy and sell with confidence, knowing the products they were buying were completely traceable. Mr Hayes said the beauty of the blockchain was that the products investors were buying were managed on a ledger or system that was almost incorruptible.
The price of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has fluctuated greatly in the past month, at one stage losing almost 40 per cent of its value before recovering slightly. Mr Hayes said the security aspect of blockchain technology worked well with other elements of the mint's forward prospects. He said the desire to trace gold from mine site to processing and end consumer fitted well with the blockchain principles. Over the past 18 months, the Perth Mint has introduced an online trading platform that allows consumers to purchase the precious metal at all times of the day and night.
This would just be another way for them to do it. Mr Hayes said while a date for a launch of the blockchain-allied products had not been set, he expected the next 12 to 18 months would result in significant movement in that direction. First posted January 24, Contact Tara de Landgrafft. More stories from Western Australia. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content.
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