Gold Coin Vending Machine Offers Profit in Case of a Bank Run

One German entrepreneur has begun selling gold from vending machines.

Shiny gold bar reflecting coins


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?

[Via The Telegraph; image by BullionVault]

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.