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The world’s oldest currency is being brought into the digital age with the launch of a debit card and app that will allow people to pay for goods in gold.

Fintech group Glint has teamed up with Lloyds Banking Group in the UK and MasterCard to create an app that enables people to load credit in various currencies, which can then be used to buy a portion of a physical gold bar. Customers use the app at the checkout to select whether to pay in a currency or gold, before transacting with their MasterCard.

The development marks the first time people in the UK and overseas can own just a portion of a gold bar through an app, which can then be used in mobile and debit card-based payments. The app also allows people to send gold to peers in the form of a digital payment.

Jason Cozens, Glint’s chief executive and co-founder, said: “Everyone is familiar with gold as one of society’s oldest means of exchange, its universal acceptance, its reliability, its history as a store of wealth and as a means of underpinning the value of ‘paper’ currencies.

“Unlike paper currencies, gold can’t be wiped out, devalued or corrupted.”

The gold price has risen year-to-date, to about $1,300 an ounce. However, critics of gold point out that it is less liquid than traditional currencies, and that its value has also fluctuated over the past few decades.

Glint’s new service is riding the wave of alternative payments, such as bitcoin, as more people seek payment methods that can store value in a way that differs from traditional currencies.

Ben Davies, a co-founder of Glint, said: “We want to create a fairer form of money whereby we give you choice and control over how you protect your money in an era where central banks issue more currency, and so the value of your currency is falling.”

Glint is working with Lloyds in the UK as the deposit holder for customers storing money on their app. When a customer decides to buy gold through the app, this is used to purchase part of a gold bar that is physically allocated in vaults in Switzerland.

The app will initially be available in the UK and Europe from Monday before being rolled out in Asia and the US next year

Mr Davies said the app helps to “democratise” gold by opening access to people who might not be able to afford to buy a whole bar, rather than the commodity being the “preserve of the wealthy”.

He added: “The advent of electronic wallets and faster payments through technology means we’re able to use gold in the electronic payment system.

“We believe over next few decades people will need the ability to protect their money by owning gold and have the ability to spend it.”

The new gold app has the backing of the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, and NEC Capital Solutions, a technology integration company.

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