Digital Gold is an online product where you can buy and save in 24K pure gold in a hassle free, convenient manner. For every online purchase, the seller keeps an equivalent weight of physical gold in a secure vault. In India, there are three companies offering digital gold: Digital Gold India Pvt. Ltd with its SafeGold brand; MMTC-PAMP India Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture between state-run MMTC Ltd and Swiss firm MKS PAMP; and Augmont Gold. You can invest as little as Rs. 1 in digital gold and then build up. Digital Gold can be bought in multiple transactions, of any denomination and accumulated over a long period of time. When needed, you can redeem your savings as cash into your bank account.

Know About Digital Gold

Digital gold is like an electronic currency based on mass and units of gold, which is stored in insured vaults. Anyone can invest in digital gold easily through multiple websites and applications or with the help of brokers. Digital gold can be bought for as little as Re 1 and in multiple fractions, allowing more and more people to invest in gold.

Clearly, it is not the usual gold bar, coin, or a piece of jewellery that has been bought traditionally across the world. Instead it is a mode of ‘investment that is done in ‘digital gold, at least initially.

A physical equivalent of the gold bought digitally is then safely stored in a digital locker. The locker is maintained and the gold guarded by the seller, on behalf of the customer, till the time the buyer chooses to sell or have the gold delivered physically.

There is a one-time cost for storage and safety of digital gold. This cost is included in the price of gold at the time of buying and may vary from that of the gold price on MCX or in physical markets.

Companies offering digital gold in India

Below are the major companies offering digital gold –

1. MMTC-PAMP

Metals and Minerals Trading Corp or MMTC is a Government of India Undertaking) and Switzerland’s PAMP SA is the world’s leading bullion brand. Established in 2008, the joint venture MMTC-PAMP in India is among the world’s most advanced gold and silver refining and minting facilities.

In the case of MMTC-PAMP, the gold is stored in vaults for five years without any additional charge. To take the delivery, the accumulated gold has to be at least 1gm.

2. SafeGold

SafeGold is a digital platform that allows purchase and sale of digital gold at low ticket sizes. It is offered by Digital Gold India Private Limited (“DGIPL”) in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

In the case of SafeGold, the assets are stored in the digital locker for two years and the gold must measure 0.5gm to ask for its physical delivery.

3. Augmont

Augmont Goldtech Private Limited is a consumer retail Goldtech company, perhaps India’s largest in the sector. Its work profile includes everything from refining to retailing and even selling digital gold. Augmont coins start from 0.1 grams.

E-wallets selling digital gold

Digital gold can be bought through e-wallets such as Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Freecharge, MobiKwik, HDFC Securities, among others.

Google Pay launched digital gold in April last year, while Paytm, and PhonePe had both launched digital gold offerings in 2017, and MobiKwik launched its offering in 2018.

Many of these fintech companies such as Google Pay and Paytm sell digital gold through partnerships with MMTC-PAMP.

Other than these online platforms, conventional gold retailors such Tanishq, financial service providers such as Motilal Oswal also deal in digital gold through their apps or websites.

All these companies have been cashing on the demand for digital gold, which has been growing during the coronavirus pandemic.

How to trade in digital gold: A buying guide

1. Choose an e-wallet or app via which you’d like to trade through. Paytm, HDFC Securities, Google Pay, Motilal Oswal, Tanshiq are some options.

2. Check the current market rate per gram of gold that is reflected on the apps. Enter an amount in INR or grams.

3. Proceed to pay.

4. The gold will be now deposited in a locker for you. The updated status will reflect on your screen immediately. You can access your account/ digital locker 24*7.

5. You can sell the gold anytime you want.

6. You can also choose to have the physical gold delivered to your doorstep. The gold is delivered in form of coins or bullion. A delivery fees is charged on this.

What are the benefits of investing in digital gold?

1. One of the biggest advantages of investing in digital gold is to be able to buy and accumulate gold in fractional quantities.

2. You can invest as little as Rs. 1 in digital gold and then build up.

3. Digital gold is insured and is stored safely in vaults by sellers, on behalf of customers.

4. Customers don’t have to worry about their gold’s safekeeping.

5. Digital gold can also be used as collateral for many online loans.

6. Investors can track and access the progress of their investment online.

7. Investors can get the ownership of 24 carats of digital gold.

8. Digital gold can be redeemed for physical jewellery, gold coins or bullion anytime and even delivered to the customer’s doorstep.

9. Investors can benefit from the real-time gold rates while purchasing or selling digital gold.

10. There are no issues of legitimacy or purity of gold.

What are some disadvantages of buying digital gold?

1. There is a cap of Rs. 2 lakh for investment on most platforms.

2. There is no regulatory mechanism or governing body such as RBI or SEBI, thus leaving room for misuse or mishandling.

3. Delivery and making charges are further applied to the price of gold.

4. In some cases, companies only offer a limited storage period, after which you either have to take physical delivery or sell the gold.

Word of Caution

The lack of a regulatory mechanism for the product leaves room for malpractices or even unintended loopholes. Both investors and issuers—buyers as well as sellers—thus need to be cautious when trading in digital gold.

The issuers of gold will have to have strong funding at all times, as investors may want to redeem or sell back their digital gold. There would also be a need to have physical gold in vaults for those who may ask for a delivery.

On the other hand, investors who may want to withdraw physical gold and sell it elsewhere will need to keep an eye on prices in the market, as delay in redeeming could lead to missing out on a good price point to sell. A delay in selling the gold could also mean that the investor did not get the desired funds when needed.

Experts also say that in the absence of proper regulatory measures customers could also be cheated with lower quality gold handed over to them by jewellers, breaking down the higher quality gold that they have accumulated digitally.

In such a scenario, it is mostly up to the buyers to be mindful of their investments and decisions to liquidate. There are safeguards in the form of trustees and insurance cover to protect the interests of investors, which buyers can consider.

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