Singapore is the perfect place to sell and store precious metals thanks to its stable government and friendly tax environment, says the co-founder of a new company trading bullion for bitcoin.
He moved to Singapore after discovering the government there was removing GST (goods and services tax) on precious metals in 2012. Rather than increasing red tape and discouraging bullion investment like other countries, he said, Singapore was more interested in removing it.
Singapore also has no capital gains tax on bullion investments, there are no associated reporting requirements, and cash transactions are allowed. Together with its many options for secure storage and strong property protection rights, the city-state holds a degree of appeal for more conservative investments like metals.
It is also one of the few jurisdictions with official policies relating to digital currency transactions and taxation.
At least one other bullion dealer, Ripple Singapore, has taken advantage of both Singapore's economic freedoms and the fast-moving Ripple network since the end of last year to innovate with its services.
Despite both bitcoin and bullion having their philosophical foundations in sound money principles, though, the two don't always share the same fans.
There are still several in the precious metals sphere who view bitcoin with suspicion, distrusting an investment without a physical form or agreeing with mainstream economists by saying bitcoin lacks 'intrinsic value'.
BullionStar's Persson is definitely not one of those people, and views bitcoin as both sound money and an interesting investment. He said:
"Instead of shielding from bitcoins as some precious metals gurus unfortunately have, we work together in our criticism of the current monetary system and banking transaction systems."
He wants users to view their portfolio holdings in both bitcoin and precious metals as actual currencies, viewing charts and comparing the prices between them as units of account and stores of value.
Buyers in Singapore can buy online or at BullionStar's shopfront right in Singapore's Central Business District, and take physical possession of their bullion as soon as a bitcoin transaction receives the required six confirmations.
They also have the option of storing it in BullionStar's own integrated vault, acting as a kind of 'bullion bank' while letting owners view their metals whenever they choose. The company is insured to store up to SGD$20 million in metals on its premises.
Selling bullion for bitcoin can be quite lucrative, even outside Singapore. In fact, it may be one of the more profitable forms of digital currency business around today.
Amagi Metals, based in the US, was one of the first bullion dealers in the world to accept bitcoin and has turned it into a successful enterprise. It began accepting bitcoin about a year ago, and is now one of BitPay's largest clients.
Marketing Director Megan Duffield said the company now does about 30% of its business in bitcoin alone, and has "seen well over $10.5m in bitcoin sales since the payment method was integrated".
Duffield is another precious metals proponent who also believes in digital currencies. In fact, Amagi has taken the concept much further than most and now also accepts litecoin, dogecoin, Ripple's XRP, darkcoin and even potcoin.
She has also hosted a series of YouTube videos, called "Ask Megan”, that explain the world of precious metal investments, and also the mysteries of bitcoin and how to use it securely.
Amagi also plans to add a raft of cryptocurrency-related features to its website, including text and email price alerts, in the coming month.