The launch and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of OneGram, a new gold-backed, Sharia-compliant crypto currency unveiled on May 2 at Ritz Carlton, Dubai International Financial Center, which has been covered by Forbes and Reuters, is good news for investors and digital money enthusiasts alike. In fact, OneGram’s unique value proposition combines a solid investment – gold – with full Sharia-compliance and the advantages of crypto-secured digital money. The OneGram ICO will start on May 21.
OneGram will work in partnership with GoldGuard, a Dubai-based high-security gold storage and online trading company, audited by PwC and insured.
Gold-backed crypto currencies, or “Digital Gold,” are all the rage now, as shown in a recent CoinDesk review. Even the Royal Mint, a 1,000-year-old institution owned by UK Treasury, is launching its own digital gold offering called Royal Mint Gold, backed by up to $US1 billion in gold bullion. Contractor BitGo is building a blockchain designed for the security and digitization of a single asset: .9999 fine gold held in 100 percent reserve by The Royal Mint.
“OneGram will offer increasing value to investors, and open doors for Muslims to participate in the digital currency economy,” notes the first OneGram press release. “With more than 2 billion Muslims worldwide, OneGram provides a Sharia-compliant method to keep gold in a digital format, making it both secure and transferable on a global scale.”
Besides the security and growth potential of a crypto currency backed by gold, the press release mentions Sharia compliance as an important, defining feature of OneGram. In fact, Sharia compliance is of paramount importance for Muslims and, therefore, for anyone who does business in the Gulf region and the Islamic world at large.
In December Bloomberg reported that the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) issued a statement allowing gold to be used in the $1.88 trillion Islamic finance business.
“In recent years, the Middle East has seen incredible growth in fintech innovations including digital tokens and smart contracts,” said OneGram CEO Ibrahim Mohammed. “With OneGram, we’re excited to provide an opportunity for investors who care about Islamic financial markets and the security of commodity-backed investments to benefit from rapid technological advances in the blockchain industry.”
The AAOIFI also issued a requirement for gold-based financial instruments (“paper gold”) to be backed by physical gold.
In “The New Case for Gold” (April 2016), top financial adviser James (Jim) Rickards explains why one should invest in gold, and how to do that. Again, not the “paper gold” that many banks offer in obscure investment vehicles, but real, actual, physical gold, fully owned and stored with a reputable non-bank operator. Rickards’ suggests that ten percent of a solid investment portfolio should be in physically owned gold and warns that, sometime in the next few years, triggered by clear signs of an impending collapse of the world’s monetary system, a panic-buying spike in the demand for gold could boost gold’s price to $10,000 per ounce (now it’s about $1,260, or $40 per gram).
The CoinDesk review notes that the public is predisposed to trust gold, “certainly more so than cryptography.” It also notes that, while a return to the gold standard is unlikely, digital gold could open the door to the creation of a new global currency as an alternative to the dollar – a prospect also discussed by Rickards.
At launch, each OneGram Coin (OGC) is backed by one gram of gold. When OGC is used for digital transactions, the transaction fees (minus admin costs) will be re-invested to buy more gold. Therefore, three factors could boost OGC value over time: 1) the likely rise of gold’s price; 2) the increasing amount of gold backing each OGC; and 3) the market demand for OGC created by its unique features.
A total of 12,400,786 OGC tokens will be sold between May 21st and September 22nd and will be available for purchase on the GoldGuard’s website.
Disclosure: I’m an advisor to the OneGram team.
Image from OneGram.