Demand For Gold "CombiBars" Soaring

Tyler Durden's picture


One of the biggest complaints about gold - always a parallel currency to paper, and soon to be serial, once the world shifts to a post-paper currency reality in which faith in infinitely creatable electronic paper money is finally destroyed - is that it would be an impractical medium of exchange, as the traditional denominations are so large one would be unable to trade one ounce (and certainly one bar) for every day needs. This is also one of the main reasons various retail investors prefer silver over gold. All this may be changing courtesy of Swiss refiner Valcambi which has created a CombiBar, a credit-card sized, 50 gram block of 99.9 gold, which is precut, and which can easily be broken into one gram pieces which can then be used as forms of payment in an emergency. And since one gram of gold has roughly the value of two ounces of silver, it is a far more practical lowest common denominator unit of exchange than the traditional one ounce minimums in broad circulation.

More on this novel, and practical, use of gold from Reuters:

Swiss refinery Valcambi, a unit of U.S. mining giant Newmont Mining Corp., wants to bring its “CombiBar” to market in the United States and build up its sales presence India – the world’s largest consumer of gold where the precious metal has long served as a parallel currency.


"The rich are buying standard bars or have deposits of phsyical gold. People that have less money are buying up to 100 grams," said Michael Mesaric, CEO of Valcambi "But for many people a pure investment product is no longer enough. They want to be able to do something with the precious metal."


Mesaric said the advantage of the "CombiBar" - which has been dubbed a "chocolate bar" because pieces can be easily broken off by hand into one gram squares - is that it can be easily transported and costs less than buying 50 one gram bars.


"The produce can also be used as an alternative method of payment," he said.


Valcambi is building a sales network in India and plans to launch the CombiBar on the U.S. market next year. In Japan, it wants to focus on CombiBars made of platinum and palladium.

Will the golden chocolate bar soon replace the one ounce gold coin as the most favored denomination?

The CombiBar is particularly popular among grandparents who want to give their grandchildren a strip of gold rather than a coin, said Andreas Habluetzel head of the Swiss business of Degussa, a gold trading company.


Other customers buy gold for security reasons.

Whatever the final outcome, demand is soaring:

Elsewhere, demand is particularly strong among Germans, still scarred by post-World War One hyperinflation, when money became all but worthless and it took a wheelbarrow full of notes to buy a loaf of bread.


"Above all, it's people aged between 40 and 70 that are investing in gold bars and coins," said Mesaric. "They've heard tales from their parents about wars and crises devaluing money."


“Demand is rising every week,” Mr. Habluetzel said. “Particularly in Germany, people buying gold fear that the euro will break apart or that banks will run into problems.”

Naturally, there are those who are desperate to infuse skepticism toward the new product. After all, one can't print gold, and any form of money that takes away wealth dilution power from the central banks (i.e. printing money), is implicitly disastrous for the status quo.

Stephan Mueller, who manages bank Julius Baer’s $6-billion gold fund, said one problem with using gold as a method of payment is that people have to take its value on blind trust.


“Gold is a useful store of value,” Mr. Mueller said. “However I doubt whether it will succeed as a method of payment.”

True- is is much better to have value in a EUR paper bill, collateralized by such non-blind trust items as Greek geta and Kalamata olives.

One thing is certain: after a record November, December sales of gold in the US Mint have already surpassed the total from 2011, and are set to be third most active gold purchasing month in 2012, recent violent paper smackdown of gold notwithstanding. Perhaps the US population has finally learned that all increasingly more frequent smackdowns of paper gold by central banks and other authorities do, is to make gold more affordable for more people, for longer. And increasingly more are taking advantage of precisely this, not of hopes of striking it rich overnight and then converting hard money once more into worthless paper equivalents.

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Pseudo Anonym's picture

this is debatable:

...1/3rd as much above grouns silver as there is gold,

the chinese hoarded silver, even more after it wad demonetized

Heffer's picture

On the Valcambi site a 50g gold bar is selling for $2857.84 but 50g of gold at current spot prices (1662) should add up to $2967.85. How can the price be less than spot? Is it the difference in exchange rate? Has anyone purchased from them and is as safe as other PM dealers?

Arvo Particleboard's picture

No wonder demand is rising every week.

yabyum's picture

Less premium on 1/10th oz American gold eagles....good looking coin too I might say. Merry Christmas my bitchez!

Schmuck Raker's picture

Gold spot @ $1660.92 = $2,670.00 for 50g.

Be sure to convert using "Troy" ounces (1 gram = 0.0321507466 troy ounce).

~7% premium.

Heffer's picture

thanks , I realized this after posting

flattrader's picture

Yep.  Like I said above.  You'll not doubt pay a premium.

I can buy junk/used gold directly from people looking to sell and pay them more than what they'd get at a cash for gold joint.

They're happy. I'm happy. They get me referrals.

hapless's picture

PM is priced in troy ounces.  1 troy ounce is 31.1034768 grams.  50 grams is about 1.61 troy ounces.

Hence a 50g bar at 1662 spot is $2671.73.  So the combi bar is selling at nearly $115/oz over spot. Nice work if you can get it.

Lets_Eat_Ben's picture

Imagine finding a few of those between your couch cushions. Jackpot!

Amagnonx's picture

I dont know why someone doesnt just make paper notes with 0.5g, and 1.0g foil strips in them.  A paper note weighs about 1g, so its no big deal adding 0.5, or 1.0g to the note - and 1g gold is around $50, so $25 for 0.5g  - very handy denominations for daily use.

francis_sawyer's picture

or why couldn't they just embed 1 gram of gold into a plastic credit card [like an RFID chip]... The chip itself could contain the authenticity info on the gold...

francis_sawyer's picture

Whatever ~ it may be a stupid idea, but it's no more stupid than that breakable card in the article... People understand credit cards... They DON'T understand that kind of shit...


Hell ~ as far as I'm concerned, we go all in on the way it was in that movie IN TIME... We're all slaves anyway... 

User 3461's picture

I wonder if the fiat control-freaks would claim that these items would be quasi currency, and illicit?

There's a Zimbabwe video I saw where they have vials of gold dust (and the horrid pains of obtaining the gold dust) to pay for bread.

Here's a growth industry: a highly accurate milligram scale (balance).

ThisIsBob's picture

Plenty of those around, and not expensive.  I'd like to see a miligram scale app for i thingies.

A hundred years ago (particularly "out west") people carried a small balance with weights.  It all fit into an eyeglasses sized case.  But a gram ain't what it used to be, so slightly better accuracy is needed today.

fuu's picture

The RFID chip itself could be printed in gold.

fuu's picture

Yes. No reason they couldn't be made out of gold.

Non Passaran's picture

Great, I want to be tracked, so convenient!

fuu's picture

I'm just saying that .01 g of gold can be made to self-identify.

At $2847.38/oz of gold .01g = $1.00.

SilverDOG's picture

These are for those who do not comprehend or are not financially concerned about premium and shipping costs of CombiBars. One looses weight gain.

 ManipuflationIs right. Buy the most recognizable for the beginning.


 Buy now trade later.

Manipuflation's picture

The children are starting to wake now.  They will find presents under the tree.  And many of those presents will be of a silvery nature.   

Sofa King's picture

Question: If this is going to be the new currency...why manufacture it and sell it for Dollars and Euros, when they can hold on to it and become the new "Masters of the Universe" when gold and silver become "serial"?

Answer: Becauser there's a sucker born every minute.

Now everybody, in a Loony Toones rythem, "A Shave and a Haircut...Two Bits."

spentCartridge's picture

Call it an even dollar for the lilac water.


The ladies like the lilac water ...

lakecity55's picture

Why not go back to Pieces of Eight?


Ho ho , me hearties! Arrgh!

rsnoble's picture

About time.  I was actually looking into the process of melting mine down and making little pieces.

Don't forget your portable pocket scale.

Schmuck Raker's picture

Lol, the new & improved "Mr. Goudbaar"

debtor of last resort's picture

The pictures tell me more, much more. The silver tablet is not for sale YET, but here it is:

100 x 1 gram silver.

Monedas's picture

Even these Kombi Bars are too big of a denomination ! (BTW What's wrong with a tube of fractional mini-coins ?)   What we need is redeemable electronic and paper money .... which can be redeemed at Gold and Silver ATMs 24/7 ?  You don't have to go the one window and one window only, one day of the month, in the FRB, Washington DC ... and stand in line for an hour .... to redeem !       Monedas     1929       Eye-On-Zion World Report   (Angus, don't get a knot in your noodle .... Eye-On-Zion is for my serious posts !)

Non Passaran's picture

Because these are more valuable (lighter) than silver coins.
Gold coins, on the other hand, would be much more expensive than these bits.
But, whatever works on the market... As long as you know the ratio, you can trade.

Urban Redneck's picture

Comparing the prices from Valcambri website to CrApmex-

1x 50g CombiBar spread - $180/oz

16x 1/10oz Maples - $300/oz

16x 1/10oz Eagles - $340/oz

50x Individual 1gr pieces (w/o assay card) - $450/oz


Also the micro denominations are a pain in the ass if you wind up using/exchanging them in a single transaction instead of many small individual transactions (kind of like rolling pennies for a pack of cigarettes)

Jason T's picture

"We don't want your Ben confetti from Washington" all over again.

Monedas's picture

There is nothing wrong with gold backed money .... as long as it is transparent, honest and instantly redeemable at convenient locations !  This also defeats the idiots who say there isn't enough physical metal for a monetary system !  A millionth of a gram would be a nice denomination PP (Post Parabola) ?  No dollars, yen nor sheckles .... generic world money is denominated in decimal fractions of a gram of Au, Ag, Pt, Pd, Cu etc. !  A new kind of "fractional" banking ?

Platinum_Investor's picture

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.... I want to buy some.  No serious I do!  And it's backed by Newmount that's even better.

thruid's picture

There is not really a great need to transport physical gold for it to back the currency.  Most exchange can be carried out with digital gold just like digital federal reserve notes are transferred now.  Check out James Turk's company.

Manipuflation's picture

Thin trading today?  Oh well.  The "perplexus" toy is pretty cool but only my wife and I are playing with it so far.  The kids seem to love these Chinee made "pillow pets".  Pillow pets are a county fair prize stuffed animal plus a velcro strap.  My daughter loves it and then stated that her friend has THREE of them already.  GenX wavering a bit on that news here. 

Hey, at least I can salvage some pride as I got my wife a set of battery jumper cables for our(her) Town and Country van.  Yes, that was her Christmas present.(that and cash)  I ain't hearing no bitching either. 


How much for the finger condoms? I can send to Timmah for Christmas? Cleanest way to search for Uncle Bens juicy Keynesian Endgame.

toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Truly a "must have" item in the new wild west.


How much to have one delivered?

babkjl's picture

Another version of small unit gold and silver:  Precious metal strips in credit card sized packaging.

CrabGrassKila's picture

The Vulturistic ASS who invented this idea, better not come near the Manger, tonight......


orangegeek's picture

And like it happened hundreds of years ago, if gold is used for consumer trade, people will start filing off corners and edges, skimming the system.


Gold is not the answer.  Accountable government is the answer.  Politics comes before stability.  And that's why we are in the mess we are in.


Barry calls it food stamps for votes.

Non Passaran's picture

And what kind of government do you think those people who file off corners of gold and slver coins and bars will elect?
I'd rather take my chances!

JPMorgan's picture

A interesting concept.

Gold (and silver) is money and has been globally accepted as a form of payment for thousands of years.

The same can't be said of fiat and credit cards.

Even today I would like to see someone try giving a tribesmen of say Papua New Guinea a Mastercard for payment.

He would probably spear you on the spot or shrink your head or something lol.  



spentCartridge's picture

I never forget, when I was a kid, this one day at school (junior), our teacher was off ill and the headmaster covered for the day, gave us all a very interesting parable, I'll never forget it, it went something like this ...


[headmaster places two items on a table in front of the class, one is a crisp twenty pound note, the other, a forty foot ball of rolled twine string]


The headmaster then imparts upon us a tale about 'civilized' people descending into the uncharted jungles of the dark continent, and then upon contact with the endemic denizens of that particular locale, the 'civilized' people humorously promote the tribal chiefs ignorance, upon given the choice of the imagined 'wealth' (the score debt note) and the real physical potential wealth of knowing how to generate life giving sustenance from something as 'simple' as a ball of string ... versus the real acknowledged wealth of the guy that is capable of figuring out that the (intrinsically worthless value of string, viz a viz) might, just, be, perhaps, more 'valuable' than the string was in the first place.


Queue an oxymoron ...


Anyways, the point I make is, and I am convinced that most ZHers might agree, that there isn't really anything that is valuable to real people so much as life itself.




Which, further begs the question why, why should we (as a cogent communicative society) be even entertaining the notion (let alone the physical concept of) money, whatever the fuck that the word 'money' ever meant to anybody beyond a psychopath in the first place?

Debugas's picture

the answer why we need money is simple - we often need to shift fruits of our labour into the future. You produce something today which rots or rusts pretty quickly so you sell it but then you do not need to buy anything for yourself today, instead you plan to buy something 1-2-5 years from now. that is where money (as claim on human labour) comes in handy

dscott8186's picture

Gold pressed Latinum anyone?  The Ferengi may have been on something there.

bugs_'s picture

easier to smuggle bar (tm)

GoldMInerJoe's picture

Go figure.

Behind spot.

No Tax.

No Premium.



A. Magnus's picture

"Stephan Mueller, who manages bank Julius Baer’s $6-billion gold fund, said one problem with using gold as a method of payment is that people have to take its value on blind trust."

Is this guy mixing crystal meth in his crack pipe before smoking it? Because last I heard gold has INTRINSIC value and PAPER has a value determined by blind trust. Nice little fucking propaganda placement bullshit to talk gold down while supposedly promoting it. Fucking little dipshit author...