London-based Glint has been pretty stealthy about what it planned to offer, despite several funding rounds and a vague description that it wanted to a create new “global currency" based on gold. Well, today the fintech startup is finally de-cloaking with a staggered launch of its multi-currency account, app and card that does indeed let you store your money in gold and convert it back to fiat currency at the point of payment.
Initially, Glint, which is regulated by the FCA under an e-money institution license, is supporting Sterling and gold, with more currencies to come. Exchange rates between currencies are promised to be "the real exchange rate," and the Glint card itself is a Mastercard and therefore widely accepted.
However, while some users may join for the low exchange rate and the Glint wallet's multi-currency support, the startup's differentiation is of course the way it does in effect turn gold into a widely accepted global currency, albeit it by proxy.
Available for iOS only, the way the app works is as follows: once you have successfully signed up, including passing the mandatory anti-money laundering checks, you are asked to top up your account. You can then choose to either leave your money in Sterling or convert it into gold (and in future any of the other supported currencies). Then when you pay for things with the Glint debit card you tell the app which 'wallet' (a particular fiat currency or gold) you want to spend from, and Glint does the conversion on the fly, including effectively selling the required gold to cover the cost of the purchase.
In terms of how your gold is stored, Glint says that physical gold holdings are legally allocated to each individual user and held in a London Bullion Market Association Accredited Brink’s bank vault in Switzerland. For the privilege, I'm told the startup charges an annual storage fee, which is taken monthly in arrears.
Much like the argument behind Bitcoin, the wider premise is that by storing your cash in gold, you avoid the volatility of fiat currencies and manipulation from central banks. Unlike Bitcoin, however, gold as a storage of value is pretty stable and, of course, older than even fiat money.
Meanwhile, as I've noted before, Glint’s founders both know a thing or two about gold.
CEO Jason Cozens co-founded GoldMadeSimple.com, a website that helps clients buy and sell physical gold and have it stored securely or delivered. He also previously founded two other companies: Visuality — where he is said to have pioneered Virtual Reality, e-commerce and online marketing, selling to ERP software company McGuffie Brunton — and Bite, a digital marketing agency.
Glint COO Ben Davies is said to have over 17 years’ experience within international financial and commodity markets. He was the former head of trading at RBS Greenwich, and co-founded Hinde Capital in 2007, an alternative investment management company specialising in precious metals.
To date, Glint has raised £6.1 million. Backers include most recently NEC Capital Solutions (through its venture fund co-operated with Venture Labo Investment) and Tokyo Commodity Exchange, in addition to Bray Capital and a number of angel investors from the banking and asset management industry.
- This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.