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ATM That Dispenses Gold Bars In Florida

PTI 18 Dec 2010, 9:16:53 IST
Boca Raton, Florida:  Shoppers in the US state of Florida who are looking for something sparkly to put under the Christmas tree can skip the jewellery and go straight to the source: after an ATM that dispenses shiny 24-carat gold bars and coins was unveiled in the US on Friday.

German company Ex Oriente Lux planned to install the "Gold To Go" machine on Friday at an upscale mall in Boca Raton, a South Florida enclave of palm trees, pink buildings and wealthy retirees.

Thomas Geissler, CEO of Ex Oriente Lux, and inventor of the machines, said he expected the majority of buyers would be walk-ups enamoured by the novelty. But he said the machines are also convenient for more serious investors looking to bypass the hassle of buying gold at pawn shops and over the internet.The company installed its first machine at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace hotel in May and followed up with gold ATMs in Germany, Spain and Italy.

Geissler said they plan to unroll a few hundred machines worldwide in 2011. He said the Abu Dhabi machine has been so popular it has to be restocked every two days.

The gold-leaf-covered machine at Boca Raton's Town Centre Mall sits outside a gourmet chocolate store and works just like the two cash ATMs beside it. Shoppers insert cash or credit cards and use a computer touch-screen to choose the weight and style they want. The machine spits out the gold in a black box with a tamper-proof seal.

Each machine, manufactured in Germany, carries about 320 pieces of different-sized bars and coins. Prices are refigured automatically every 10 minutes to reflect market fluctuations. At prices from one point earlier this week, a two-gram piece cost about $120, including packaging, certification and a 5 percent mark-up. An ounce (28 grams) cost about $1,470.

Owners said the machine, which will hold around $150,000 in cash and gold, will be flanked by an armed guard for now. Several live security cameras are fixed inside and outside the machine.The popularity of gold is cyclical, but it's currently riding high, in part because of fears stoked by financial collapse.Geissler, who plans to open a machine in Las Vegas by the year's end, said the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment firm was the impetus for the flashy ATMs.

His customers refused to buy bonds, stocks and other funds from the financial industry, so his company focused on precious metals.As investors continued to lose faith in the global finance market system, the company worked on the gold-leaf finished ATM, banking that the protection of purchasing power found in gold would lure market-leery customers.

Dave Jones, who brokered the deal to bring the machines to the US, predicts gold will become a parallel currency in the next five years.

He said there are plans to install about 40 more machines at upscale malls and hotels around the US. Jones said gold was a "good hedge against inflation" and provided "a good comfort level".AP