Gold bars that are about as big as a credit card and can readily be broken into 1-gram pieces and used for payment purposes are the latest craze across Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. A Swiss company is now eyeing the American and Indian markets.
Gold, of course, has served as a safe haven throughout the economic disturbances since 2008, and indeed over the past ten years as a whole. Since 2001, gold prices have increased more than 500 percent.
In 2011, gold bars and coins sales accounted for almost $77 billion, per the World Gold Council. Compare that to 2002’s $3.5 billion.
“The rich are buying standard bars or have deposits of hysical gold. People that have less money are buying up to 100 grams,” said Michael Mesaric, CEO of Valcambi [the Swiss company that’s interested in America and India]. “But for many people a pure investment product is no longer enough. They want to be able to do something with the precious metal.”
Swiss company Valcambi manufactures something called the “Combibar”—a gold bar a bit like a chocolate bar, comprising 1-gram square pieces that can simply be broken off for use. Expect to see this enter the American market sometime in 2013. Valcambi is also establishing a presence in India and Japan (it is focusing on platinum and palladium Combibars for the latter).
The Eurozone’s continued economic instability means investors—particularly Germans—increasingly trust the Combibar. It’s useful both as something to gift to family members and as a hedge against the euro.