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During the past year, a number of blockchain projects have focused on trading bullion, but what about gold that's still in the ground?

That seemingly unlikely business model is precisely the aim of a new partnership announced last month between Orebits, a startup providing asset-digitization for precious metal reserves, and blockchain product provider Symbiont.

The deal would see the creation of so-called smart certificates, or smart contract investment instruments, tied to proven gold reserves (supplies of the metal known to be in the ground, but that haven't yet been processed).

Despite the physical restrictions of the gold itself, the smart certificates, known as 'orebits', can now be freely traded and exchanged as tokens on a blockchain platform provided by Symbiont.

Michael Zimits, Orebits’ president and COO, told CoinDesk that each of the certificates will be backed by five ounces of proven gold reserves.

He said:

"Orebits derive their value from the price of traded gold, providing exposure to the price movement of the precious metal without having to deal with the physical properties and logistical concerns of holding the asset in tangible form."

As for how someone might confirm the gold reserves are real, Zimits explained that the smart contracts house this information directly.

"This documentation is made available on the distributed ledger as part of the smart contract and includes geological surveys and findings, geologist verification, registered chain of custody, corporate documentation and owner background verification," he said.

As such, the partnership represents the latest effort to bridge the worlds of gold and blockchain. So far this year, companies like Euroclear and long-standing institutions like the UK Royal Mint have revealed plans to launch marketplaces enabling gold exchange via the technology.

In this light, Orebits is the latest entry in what is proving to be an attractive use case for blockchain, and further fits into the broader trend of enterprises seeking to leverage blockchain tech to open new revenue streams.

Gold ring image via Shutterstock

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