Several Turkish banks are collaborating on a blockchain-powered trading platform for physical gold. Takasbank announced BiGa as an transparent exchange platform for trading gold. The Istanbul Stock Exchange stores the gold, while investors use the blockchain to trade. People will get access to a digital wallet, which they can eventually use to trade BiGA.
“BiGA is a blockchain-based gold-transfer platform that provides physical privacy, regulatory compliance, maximum privacy and security.”Takasbank press release (8/11/2019)
The gold trading platform will allow traders to be active seven days per week and 24 hours per day. Blockchain technology also allows foreign investors to get ownership over gold in Turkish vaults. Transactions are traceable on the blockchain, while the owner’s names remain private. Each bank involved in the trading on the BiGA platform serves as a node in the blockchain.
BiGA stands for “Bir Gram Altin”, which translates to ‘one gram of gold’. One BiGA is always backed by 1 gram of gold. The whitepaper is currently only available in Turkish, even though an English version in ‘coming soon’. A first version of the BiGA platform launches this December, while an improved second version will be available in November 2020.
Development of the project started early last year. The platform was tested this May with a variety of collaborating banks including Garanti BBVA, Kuveyt Turk, Vakifbank and Ziraat Bank. At first BiGA will only be available to customers of the banks that support the project, next year followed by more clients.
Regulated cryptocurrency backed by gold
BiGA is a type of cryptocurrency. It uses blockchain technology, intensive cryptographic algorithms to ensure security and verification of transaction. Above all it doesn’t require single central party to operate. On the other hand, BiGA is different. Every bank involved in the system is a node, enabling regulators to audit the transfers. On top of that BiGA is fully backed by actual gold.
Consumers will not see BiGA on CoinMarketCap. The price of the BiGA token is based on the price of gold. In the past two years Turkey has doubled its gold reserves. Gold reserves in Turkey increased to 320.68 tonnes. This is an all-time high for the country that has seen the value of its national currency drop tremendously.
Turkey’s citizens favor the timeless investment strategy of buying gold. All over the country shops are selling pieces of gold that people hide in their bedrooms. Turks are the third-largest purchasers of gold, after the Chinese and Indians. It’s estimated that 200 billion worth of gold is being held under pillows and mattresses all around the country. This money is not part of the traditional banking system. However, it is part of Turkish culture. It’s very common to gift a piece of gold at engagements, weddings and when a baby is born. At the same time Turkish banks and the government urge people to place their gold in the bank, adding value to the Turkish economy.
Also published on Medium.