It's hard to invent business ideas that'll generate cash in this economy, but TG-Gold-Super-Markt thinks they've found a way: They plan on installing 500 vending machines across Germany, in locations ranging from train stations to airports, which will dispense gold in exchange for cash.
The Stuttgart-based company just unveiled its first prototype at the Frankfurt airport, which offers a 1g gold wafer for €30, a 10g bar for €245, or gold coins. The machines are wired to monitor current gold prices and adjust their rates accordingly. They're also rigged to monitor for money laundering activity.
Sounds like a brilliant way to market gold, right? Not so much. You'd be hard pressed to find a more cynical business ploy, given one simple fact: The gold in the vending machine goes for 30% above market price. Thus, the idea seems more like a clever way to capitalize on impulse buys, driven by market fear (which the machines themselves help promote). Or, as Thomas Geissler, who owns TG-Gold-Super-Markt, told The Telegraph, "German investors have always preferred to hold a lot of personal wealth in gold, for historical reasons. They have twice lost everything. Gold is a good thing to have in your pocket in uncertain times." Um, could you possibly plant a more frightening image in the minds of would-be customers? Doesn't it seem kind of twisted to make the spectre of a financial crash into a gilttering vending machine offering salvation in the event of a bank run? Can you imagine the scene if banks started putting these things outside their front doors?