In a press release this week, the UK’s Royal Mint announced that it will be launching a blockchain-based product called Royal Mint Gold (RMG) in 2017. RMG is the result of a joint effort with Chicago’s CME Group futures exchange, and is intended to provide an innovative way for exchange users to trade gold. The Royal Mint Gold units will each serve as a digital ownership record representing actual physical gold stored at a Royal Mint bullion vault near Cardiff. The trading platform will use blockchain technology to facilitate the digital transactions.
According to the announcement, traders who hold RMG will have the option of exchanging their digital holdings for the physical metal, in much the same way that Americans once had the option of exchanging gold-backed dollars. To make this dream a reality, the digital certificates will be backed by as much as $1bn in physical gold.
Royal Mint director of new business David Janczewski noted that “We didn’t set out with blockchain in mind but we wanted to address the problem that it costs money to vault gold. This is a digital solution to physical gold trading.”
While there have been prior attempts by startups to achieve blockchain-based precious metals trading – and several ongoing efforts as well, none have involved organizations with this level of credibility. CME Group is a multibillion dollar enterprise with deep commodities-trading roots, while the Royal Mint has been a part of Britain’s history since it was known as the London Mint in 886 A.D. The city of London already sees roughly $5 trillion in gold trades annually, and this new trading option is expected to make it an even more attractive locale for bullion transactions.