Britain's Royal Mint Reveals Details on 'Live' Blockchain for Tracking Gold

Michael del Castillo
Nov 3, 2017 at 13:00 UTC
NEWS

You wouldn't think you'd lose a 1kg gold bar worth more than $40,000.

But during the London Blockchain Summit this week, Nicola Robinson, senior strategic marketing manager at the U.K.'s Royal Mint, which owns 5.4 percent of the global bullion market, did just that.

Sure, Robinson had handed the bar over to audience members (it was eventually recovered), but the stunt was designed to give a sense of the difficulty inherent in tracking and managing gold, and to set up how a blockchain might relieve some of that.

While the blockchain can't, obviously, store the physical gold, it has – through the group's Royal Mint Gold (RMG) blockchain – proved helpful in managing the ownership of the commodity.

Originally revealed in November 2016 as a way to provide a reliable record of gold ownership and the near instantaneous sale of the precious metal, at the event, Robinson revealed that the first test transaction on the RMG blockchain was completed Aug. 2, with a genesis block that includes a picture of the developers.

Robinson said:

"It's simple, it's so simple, it's just a digital representation of real gold. The most exciting thing about RMG is that it's live, it's out there, it's working."

And while the blockchain – which was created in partnership with financial market giant CME Group using wallet startup BitGo's technology – is not yet open to the public, it has currently verified more than 50,000 blocks, Robinson said.

In her eyes, the blockchain could help manage smaller amounts (such as a single ounce) of gold, which some believe would lower the barrier to entry for potential gold investors and increase the liquidity of the market.

Robinson also used her talk at the blockchain event to hint at the Royal Mint's broader initiatives.

For one, she revealed that the launch of a blockchain-based bullion trading platform was imminent. And touched on the fact that the RMG platform could someday be used to accommodate requests to prove the provenance of gold and, even more broadly, in the provisioning of collateral of global trades.

Currently the Royal Mint is in discussions with potential partners and traders, though Robinson didn't give a specific date the platform would launch.

Robinson minced no words when describing the impact she believes the blockchain will have on gold trading:

"We think RMG is the start of a global revolution. We think it's a bit of a game changer."

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Bitgo.

Gold bars image via Shutterstock

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UKGoldLondon Stock ExchangeEventsRoyal Mint

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