BitGold Inc. Acquires GoldMoney.com for CAD $51.9 Million
Gold payment startup BitGold acquired the operations and intellectual property of the leading consumer gold storage company GoldMoney.com.
The acquisition of the company will be in exchange for 1,169,794 common shares in BitGold, a public company trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. GoldMoney, since its founding in 2001, has amassed 20,000 customers, 135,000 user sign ups and manages more than $1 billion in assets.
In a BitGold press release, the startup said the acquisition will lower its operating cost and give them a ready-made vault storage operation for the company’s in-beta gold payment system. BitGold is currently developing and testing a payment service that will use blockchain technology to facilitate digital gold payments.
As part of the acquisition, GoldMoney founder James Turk, alongside company directors Mahendra Naik and Hector Fleming, will join BitGold’s board of directors.
“We created GoldMoney with the vision of making gold accessible for savings and payments, a vision that BitGold is rapidly expanding in a new era of cloud computing and mobile technology,” said Turk.
Roy Sebag, BitGold CEO added, “with the technology of the BitGold platform we can expand the GoldMoney legacy of trust, security and a client-centric purpose to new markets, growing from a much stronger base and benefiting all stakeholders. Combining the first global e-marketplace for gold with the latest and most innovative, we instantly become the world’s largest and most active bullion money service.”
GoldMoney will continue to operate as usual, operating its vault service as well as various media products, but new features and products will be added in the coming months. According to Turk, users can expect a gold debit card, expanded payment options, as well as “the many applications and features being developed by this innovative team.”
However, BitGold was very hush-hush about how — and if — the blockchain startup’s payment network would be implemented into GoldMoney.
Founded in 2014, BitGold launched with the mission to make gold payments practical by digitizing them through Bitcoin’s payment network. Since then, the startup has received a lot of attention, as well as investment. The gold payment network has raised several million dollars from large players in the gold and financial industries, including Alex and Gregory Soros’ fund ,Soros Brothers Investments, and Eric Sprott’s Sprott Inc.
Despite the attention, the company has been secretive about the company’s product, which has been loosely described as a payment network for gold using the blockchain (though recently all mentions of blockchain and bitcoin have been removed from BitGold’s marketing copy). BitGold launched a private beta for select persons in Zurich, London, Hong Kong and several other cities late last year. The beta was supposed to end in early February, but has continued. The product is still unavailable to the public.
According to a video produced by the startup, the payment network will serve three main use cases: greater gold functionality for gold investors, online payments and international money transfers (remittances). In the video, Sebag said users will be able to send gold to any other BitGold user for free, no matter where that user is (after an initial cost of one percent to get the gold into the network). The founders of the company envision a future where migrants would avoid fees charged by remittance providers by sending gold through the startup.
It is unclear how BitGold would deal with compliance requirements for operating a global payment system. The startup has failed to shed any light so far on how BitGold will comply with know-your-customer (KYC) regulations around the world. That is a huge question, since every single “digital gold” company that has come before BitGold has either been charged by law enforcement or shut down on its onw volition due to financial regulations.
Up until 2012, GoldMoney ran its own gold payment service that allowed users to send gold to each other. But the company shut it down citing the regulatory costs of compliance as too high for the “insignificant demand.” Also, in contrast to the now defunct E-Gold, whose founders were arrested, GoldMoney’s digital gold network did not allow for independent agents to exchange the virtual gold for real gold. The tactic heavily limited the product’s potential but helped it avoid being a den of black market activity that E-Gold became.
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