Merrick, NY--It's not every day you see an ATM selling gold. Yes, actual gold ingots, from one gram to one troy ounce, plus coins, although the specific offerings vary from machine to machine. Brought to life by Gold To Go by Ex Oriente Lux AG, this innovative concept is working in locations around the globe.
Currently there are three U.S. locations: New York, NY; Las Vegas, NV; and Atlantic City, NJ. Worldwide, the count totals 19: in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates. While those are modest numbers, the sales are not. According to Thomas Geissler (left), CEO and creator of Gold To Go, the machines in total have had 60,000 single purchases, totaling around $40 million dollars, to date.
"The concept is working," says Geissler. "It's just a matter of time until consumers find gold vending machines everywhere."
One of the Gold To Go ATMs, in Stack's Bowers Galleries in New York.
The Gold To Go ATM works just like your local cash machine, for the most part. A security team refills it, taking out cash and putting in gold, using the same procedures as a cash-dispensing ATM. However, that's where the similarities end. This ATM, embellished with gold leaf, is always online and the prices are updated every 60 seconds based on gold spot prices. It also features an ID scanner/camera to prevent potential money laundering.
The way the machines intake money also varies. In the United States, insert cash (only cash) and take home gold, dispensed in an elegant gift box. In Europe and the UAE, customers can use credit cards, says Geissler.
"Not yet in the U.S. We must ensure there is no fraud. The machines accept credit cards with a chip and pin [number]. We expect the U.S. to roll out that technology by the end of the year." At that point, the U.S. machines will also be able to accept credit cards.
So, who is the Gold To Go customer? "We are targeting every tourist to buy a golden gift instead of a rubbish teddy bear," said Geissler, referring to tourists worldwide who take home t-shirts, stuffed animals and tchotchkes that soon end up in the trash.
Toward that end, Geissler is placing the machines in "four- and five-star luxury hotels in tourists areas." In the United States, the Golden Nugget hotels in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City serve as a home for Gold To Go. "It's working and cost efficient," says Geissler. "Sales are a bit slow but enough to pay all the costs. In other areas, we do ten times that amount." The third U.S. machine is in Stack's Bowers Galleries, a New York City auction house.
Currently, the machines in the UAE are performing the best. "We have prime locations there with lots of tourists. We are in the Abu Dabi airport with five ATMs and at a private airport there. In April, we are opening in the Dubai Mall." Geissler says the machine's success depends greatly on the location.
A Gold To Go machine in the UAE.
The gold-dispensing ATM was Geissler's idea and he's the driving force behind it. "It took one and a half years from the idea to the first real working machine," he said. His current mission is to have 3,000 Gold To Go ATMs around the globe by 2018. Geissler is currently in process of adding diamonds to the ATMs. Diamond sizes will be from a quarter carat to a full carat.
"We will do everything we can to make the purchase work," said Geissler about adding the diamonds. "Customers have one month to be happy with the diamonds. If they do not like it for any reason, they will get the full price back. We are also committed to fair pricing."
Gold To Go is based in Germany. The Gold To Go website offers ATM location information, as does the company's app. You can also follow them on Twitter, but only in German, for now.
Perhaps the next time you return from a trip to a tourist location, instead of bringing back another shirt, another perfume or another bear, consider bringing gold, as thousands have. "We give people the chance to buy 24 karat gold as a souvenir, which will hold in price for a few thousand years."
Now that concept beats a stuffed animal any day.
Ingot and coins sold in the Golden Nugget Gold To Go ATMs.