TECHNOLOGY

Why This Start-up Wants You to Use Digital Gold

Copernicus Gold aims to build an ecosystem where consumers use digital gold to pay, save, or exchange currency

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 10 Apr 2018

Why This Start-up Wants You to Use Digital Gold

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Gold has been an integral part of commerce and trade for centuries. Now with the blockchain and cryptocurrency craze, gold is finding its place in this new digital realm.

Sergei Vozchikov, CEO of Singapore’s Copernicus Gold, wants to build an ecosystem where consumers can shop online and use digital gold to pay, save, or exchange currency. Digital gold is a form of electronic money that is based on mass units of gold.

“Ultimately our goal is to enable entire payment ecosystems based on our algorithm and blockchain technology,” says Vozchikov, noting that the ecosystem is a proprietary version of Bitcoin’s blockchain technology.

Advantages of digital gold

Vozchikov says there are several advantages to digital gold. The first is that buyers are no longer restricted to the physicality of coins and bullions — they can buy digital gold in increments as small as one cent. This would be particularly helpful to consumers who want to save or invest but do not have a bank account.

Vozchikov sees the opportunity in the world’s large unbanked population which he says can turn to digital assets like Copernicus Gold.“Because they can buy slowly online, in any grammage of digital gold, they can save up digital gold until they have enough to rede

em physical gold or trade it for other goods and services — [not hindered] by the need to save in cash, which can be stolen,” he says.

In addition, there are no transaction fees for consumers transacting with Copernicus Gold.

“Unlike credit card companies that charge merchants fees to use their terminals, personal transactions using Copernicus Gold are free. For example, if you’re buying coffee with a credit card there’s a transaction fee, but with Copernicus Gold it’s free,” says Vozchikov.

Even business transactions, such as converting a currency to pay an overseas vendor, would have nominal fees, he adds.

Copernicus Gold launched in Singapore in August 2017 and counts customers in over 40 countries.

Outside of having to explain how consumers can use their technology to buy, pay, or save in digital gold, Vozchikov says that the biggest challenge in scaling the company is dealing with different cultural perceptions toward gold.

“For instance, Indians save and store gold as jewellery, but in some interpretations of Islam, gold is not worn. Chinese see gold as a form of investment. In Western culture, gold is used as part of an assets portfolio,” he says.

As a result, Copernicus Gold has had to customize its approach to each new market, tailored to the sensitivities toward gold and other precious metals.

Despite these challenges, Vozchikov has big plans in 2018.

“This year we aim to grow our business as an electronic wallet, build on the opportunities that we have, apply our technology by partnering with enterprises, further build a global payments ecosystem, and attract more consumers to buy digital gold,” he says.