Ever since I got into buying precious metals, I’ve always thought it would be a great idea to have a gold or silver backed debit card, so that I could protect my wealth against inflation and have an easy means of spending it through a card which would be accepted worldwide. After coming across GoldMoney, I would have thought they would have been the first to do something like this as they already store precious metal for their clients and allow them to buy it online and during an 2008 interview with the DGC Magazine, GoldMoney founder James Turk said, “Technology today enables gold to circulate as currency in a way that is far more efficient than any national currency, and further, anything you can do today with a national currency you can do with goldgrams. So I would like to continue expanding our scope of products. For example, we are often asked to issue a debit card that people can use to access their goldgrams. I’d like to see that happen in the next year or two, but longer term there are ways to use goldgrams that people aren’t even considering yet.”
Unfortunately, GoldMoney hasn’t taken the leap forward as yet to close the bridge between the online digital gold currency and offline plastic card worlds. I read that the reason was, “that if a precious metal repository begins to conduct transactions outside of it’s facility, it must comply with banking regulations. If this occurs, the ‘allocated gold’ becomes a liability of the vault which brings counter party risk. GoldMoney has been sensitive to this fact and they are very careful to avoid any ‘grey’ areas. For example, I’ve read that another company tried something similar and became ‘creative’ in trying to interface with a credit card company and/or PayPal. They became entangled in litigation that eventually ruined the company.” The closest thing I was able to find to bridging the two worlds was the ‘Crowne Gold Card’, which was an ATM debit card that gave client’s access to their gold bullion funds. The cost of the card was $95 and had a maximum daily withdrawal of $500 and worked through the STAR and PLUS networks. Unfortunately, the U.S. company closed its business in July 2008.
My hopes of owning a ‘real’ gold card came to life when I came across an article from the Associated Press that was discussing Utah’s recent legislation, which made US Mint legal tender coins exempt from state capital gains taxes and said, “Craig Franco hopes to cash in on it with his Utah Gold and Silver Depository, and he thinks others will soon follow. The idea is simple: Store your gold and silver coins in a vault, and Franco issues a debit-like card to make purchases backed by your holdings. He plans to open for business June 1, likely the first of its kind in the country.” I had been following the news of the various US states that were attempting to pass legislation making gold legal tender, and was happy that Utah passed its bill on March 25th, but this was the icing on the cake.
Things got even more exciting after I heard my favourite economist/investor Peter Schiff on his May 24th radio show [16:36-18:27] discuss the Utah bill and say, “We are going to be giving out VISA debit cards in multi-currencies at Euro Pacific International [bank] to our non-American customers, and I will look into having a debit card which is directly backed by bullion. Its a bit more complicated, but its not impossible.” And the same day I stumbled upon the Free Lakota Bank, a non-fractional bank that issues, circulates and accepts for deposit American Open Currency Standard (AOCS) approved silver coins/currencies and .999 fine silver bullion. I enjoyed the statements on their about page including, “Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. … Money is made possible only by those who produce. Paper is not money, instead merely a promise to pay. We hope that some day the rest of the world will awaken from the … American Dream, because you must be asleep to believe it. Well, that dream now has a silver lining; as people discover the dream is really a nightmare, the only solution is a return to value: value that comes from production and honest trade.” It addition to offering deposits facilities, the bank also provides standard and micro loans from a general investment fund that clients can assign a portion of their savings to be included in, with a specified rate of return.
I look forward to seeing these various ideas come to fruition and grow, as the problem with the current system is that we leave our paper money in the bank and the banks get to use it to enslave us. So the only way to get ourselves out of this indebted banking system is to have our money in sunnah and sound money like gold and silver.
Update [01/08/2011]: In Peter Schiff’s July 29th radio show [36.02-38.35], Peter confirms that it is a MasterCard and not a VISA, “What we are going to be doing is allowing our banking clients [who are can not be American nationals] to purchase metals from us and then we will store the metal and we will give them a MasterCard that will function like a debit card, except what they are debiting is their gold holdings. … When you go into a store … the merchant has no idea what you are spending. He doesn’t know whether you have dollars, or gold or euros [backing the card]. He just sees a MasterCard and he puts it in and gets an approval code and you can buy what you want. … What that enables you to do is keep your principle in something that is not loosing value everyday.” Peter goes onto say that the gold holdings will be reduced according to the currency you are spending against and that currency’s exchange rate to gold. So if you are in europe and spending euros, it would be the euro rate of gold and the more the euro decreases against gold, the lower the reduction to the gold holdings.