The UK government-owned Royal Mint has frozen plans for digital gold. In November 2016 the Royal Mint in conjunction with the CME announced the intention to launch a digitized gold offering called Royal Mint Gold (RMG). In late 2017, the CME pulled out when the project was already at an advanced stage. The Royal Mint looked for alternatives, but according to Reuters, the UK government balked at the idea of trading on a cryptocurrency exchange.
The CME venture had planned for up to $1 billion worth of gold initially which would have been kept in Royal Mint vault storage. Alphapoint developed the RMG digital asset trading platform, and BitGo developed a wallet.
But the CME’s priorities changed. In December 2017 it launched Bitcoin futures to much fanfare. However, the regulated instruments are not particularly popular, in part because of the high margin requirements as a result of Bitcoin’s volatility.
Since the aborted RMG launch, other startups have stepped into the space. In March Tradewind Markets launched an industry-focused platform, with the Royal Canadian Mint in the role of custodian. The startup has raised more than $22m and boasts Bain Capital as investors as well as several gold industry players such as Agnico Eagle Mines and IAMGOLD. Tradewind started as an IEX strategic venture. The company’s technology uses R3’s Corda.
Announced this week, Tradewind’s close ties with the industry has led them to move beyond trading and custody into provenance tracking. The new application records the source of the metals, physical characteristics, logistics and refining, and compliance with standards.
“Information in the Gold supply chain is disorganized, managed across disconnected databases and systems, and is often unreliable,” said Grant Angwin, President of Asahi Refining. “The Tradewind platform helps to solve for this issue, efficiently tracking the different counterparties who control physical metal, and allowing owners to trace the provenance of the metal through the network.”
Asahi is also participating in IBM’s TrustChain for tracking gold jewelry.
Something not publicly announced was the September departure of founding President Matt Trudeau.
In January Australian InfiniGold launched digital gold certificates backed by physical gold held at the Perth Mint. However, it doesn’t appear to be blockchain-based as it uses proprietary technology. The only mention of blockchain was in the launch announcement which stated that the digital certificates were “compatible with a wide range of technology platforms including blockchain”.