Glint Pay promises consumers an easier way to transact in gold
London fintech firm basing U.S. operations out of Boulder
By Aldo Svaldi
29 July 2019
If entrepreneur Jason Cozens has his way, the United States will return to the gold standard, one consumer downloading one mobile application and transacting on one debit card at a time.
Glint Pay Inc., the company Cozens founded, launched a gold-backed debit card in the U.S. on Monday. Based in London, the company has made Boulder its U.S. base of operations.
“We want gold to be considered like any other currency,” said Cozens. “We want to give a reliable currency to the world.”
Glint Pay rolled out its debit card early last year in Europe and has had more than 50,000 downloads of its mobile application and more than $50 million in transactions. The company launched a U.S. debit card Monday, with Boulder serving at its U.S. base of operations.
Users can download the Glint application on their mobile devices and quickly register. Money is wired from an existing bank account to purchase physical gold held in a vault in Switzerland. The exchange is made at the spot gold price, less a 0.5 percent transaction fee.
Registered users are provided with a Glint Debit Mastercard, pursuant to a license from Mastercard USA. Glint is an agent of Sutton Bank, and the accounts are regulated under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. A customer retains ownership of his or her gold until it is spent, and the vault holdings are audited daily.
Why go through the hassle? For starters, Cozens said the U.S. dollar has lost 86 percent of its buying power after the country went off the last vestiges of the gold standard.
Back in 1970, a cheeseburger would have cost 55 cents, but last year it was up to $3.47. A gram of gold would have purchased two cheeseburgers back then. Today, it can purchase 12 cheeseburgers, he said.
One of the knocks against gold is that it is not that convenient. It may store value, but it isn’t easy to spend. McDonald’s and Wendy’s aren’t going to accept a gram of gold in return for 12 cheeseburgers.
Glint gets around that by allowing people to draw on the gold reserves to make purchases through a debit card, which can be used around the globe. The technology allows users to effectively buy meals at restaurants or book a room for the night using grams of gold, something that was done in the Colorado’s earliest days.
When the gold runs out, the debit card stops working, just like it would if a checking account gets overdrawn.
But many early adopters are using Glint as a way to earn a higher return on their savings. As countries continue to pile on debt, the United States included, they risk devaluing their currencies. Gold’s relative value would increase in that scenario.
And if debt levels get too high and the global economy crashes, gold can provide a hedge. As long as the internet and the payment system are working, consumers should be able to access their funds. And if that isn’t the case, users can claim their physical gold, Cozens said.
Cozens said the idea for Glint came to him after watching banks such as Lehman and Northern Rock collapse during the 2008 financial crisis. He began to question the whole idea of money.
“Banks aren’t necessarily a secure place for your money. They lend out more than they have,” he said.
Thomas Frey, a futurist based in Westminster, said some firms have tried to create currencies backed with hard assets, including one example he knows about based on diamonds. His bet, however, is on cryptocurrencies, which he expects will transform the financial system.
They have been unstable and aren’t widely accepted in commerce yet. But big firms from J.P. Morgan to Facebook are coming onboard and a lot of money is being invested in building an infrastructure.
“Gold is complicated,” he said.
Cozens counters that Glint, like cryptocurrencies, has sprung out of the distrust of the existing monetary system. Bitcoin’s developers mimicked the supply of gold to limit that currency’s supply and they reference terms like mining. Why not go for the original?
“Glint is an alternative to the banking payment system and we think it is a more reliable one than crypto,” he said.
Glint is starting out small in Boulder, with six people. But the headcount should grow as it expands to add functions. That includes the ability to send grams of gold as gifts to people and expanding the global currency wallets that the U.S. platform can handle, Cozens said.
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