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Leading by Example: Innovation Drives Integrity and Transparency

The 5th edition of the Bullion Integrity Forum took place on March 7, 2024, in Zurich. aXedras gathered industry experts from across the entire value chain of precious metals, who discussed their best practices for applying novel solutions to increase transparency and integrity within the industry.

How receptive is the gold market to greater transparency?

This was the title of our keynote delivered by Philip Newman (Managing Director at Metals Focus Ltd). During his keynote, Philip explored the opportunities that increased transparency presents for sectors such as jewelry, retail investment, official sector, and institutional investment. He highlighted that several industry associations are actively driving the entire industry towards greater integrity and transparency. Individual jewelers are setting the standard by leading through example. Notably, within the institutional investment sector, there is an emerging opportunity that may surpass those in other segments.

Leveraging holistic provenance information in the banking sector

Following the keynote, Andreas Schuler (FX & Precious Metal Trader at Basler Kantonalbank), outlined the path towards enhanced transparency in gold trading, referring to it as "Physical Gold 2.0". He touched on the contentious issue of sustainability within the gold sector, posing a critical question: "How can gold products be offered in a responsible manner in the future?" Andreas concluded his inspiring speech by noting that trading gold at banks will increasingly encounter reputational risks. Regulations are set to tighten, making enhanced transparency crucial for the future of the gold business.

Our Patrick Röösli (Business Development at aXedras) gave a live demonstration of the aXedras Data Portal, showcasing it as a cutting-edge solution for visualizing bar holdings on an aggregated level. This innovative platform allows financial institutions to access detailed provenance information for each securely stored bar. Furthermore, banks can share these details with their clients through allocated accounts, accessible via simple web logins. External customers are then able to view summarized and intuitive representations of their total bar holdings, along with breakdowns by individual product. This functionality significantly simplifies the process of meeting regulatory demands and addressing compliance concerns.

They were joined by Daniel Portmann, Senior Compliance Officer at Bank Julius Bär and Simone Knobloch, COO at Valcambi SA on the panel. Daniel highlighted key insights from the perspective of a Swiss bank actively engaged in the trading of physical precious metals. He focused on the current and evolving regulatory framework and its impact on the day-to-day operations of banks. Simone emphasized the role of refineries as "gatekeepers" of physical materials and associated documentation. He noted an increasing demand for materials with well-documented provenance over recent years.

Technology as enabler to drive product transparency and innovation

Nicolas Carrera (Group Treasurer at Metalor) and Jonathan J. Jodry (Business Development Director at Metalor), discussed the development and integration opportunities of the geoforensic passport with traceability solutions like the aXedras platform. They highlighted how security features, including the geoforensic passport and DLT-based supply chain tracking solutions, work together seamlessly. These technologies complement each other to enhance customer trust in the integrity of the materials.

Robin Kolvenbach (Co-CEO at Argor-Heraeus SA) delved into the nearly philosophical question of the true origin of gold — a commodity that can be perfectly recycled and has been circulating for approximately 6000 years. He pointed out that legislative bodies and industry standard setters have varying definitions for the origin of precious metal products. However, he suggested that leveraging technical solutions could pave the way forward in accurately determining the origins of precious metals.

During the subsequent panel discussion, representatives from the refining sector concurred on the intricate nature of determining the origin of precious metals, especially when they have been remelted multiple times. It also became evident that relying on paper trails is not seen as a viable solution for the future.

Our Iwan Lottenbach (CPTO at aXedras AG) shed light on the overhaul of aXedras' open architecture, laying the groundwork for digital applications and digitized use cases. He identified flexibility, scalability, and interoperability as the cornerstone principles of this open architecture, emphasizing the crucial role of mutual industry standards and taxonomy. Through the introduction of the aXedras Taxonomy, we have taken a significant step toward establishing a connected, open, and agnostic architectural framework for the industry.

World Gold Council's members commit to enhanced supply chain transparency

Terry Heymann (CFO at WGC) initiated the afternoon sessions with a compelling presentation on the World Gold Council's (WGC) strategic vision for transforming and digitizing the gold industry through the #Gold247 initiative. He highlighted the commitment of WGC members to adopting enhanced transparency measures, notably through initiatives like aXedras' Gold Bar Integrity platform. This step underpins the gold mines' dedication to drive the entire industry to the next level of integrity and transparency.

Ben Lam (VP/Treasury at Agnico Eagle Mines) representing the gold mining industry and specifically Agnico Eagle as a member of the World Gold Council (WGC), emphasized the sector's adaptation to new realities, with a continued emphasis on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and optimization efforts. He highlighted the importance of integrating existing inhouse solutions into, and publishing core provenance data on, aXedras' Gold Bar Integrity (GBI) platform as a critical step towards achieving connectivity among stakeholders along the value chain. As the initial step in the journey of gold, miners are ready to fulfill their responsibility, signaling their commitment to transparency and integrity.

Identified "cultural shift" when it comes to transparency

Christoph Wild (President at ASFCMP) delved into the overarching topic of transparency within the gold supply chain, providing a detailed exploration of the known challenges, definitions, and pathways forward: the ASFCMP way. He stated that the sector is witnessing an important "cultural shift" when it comes to transparency. He offered exclusive insights into the strategic outlook of the ASFCMP to attendees of the Bullion Integrity Forum.

Another highlight of the day was Eric Jodouin (Sales Manager - Refining Services at Royal Canadian Mint) speaking about the Mint's vision around the digital future of the refining industry: A sustainable organization is recognized as one that delivers economic, environmental and social benefits to all its stakeholders, both in the short and long term. The Royal Canadian Mint is delivering on this promise with the implementation of a DLT platform in collaboration with aXedras. This brings greater transparency and trust into the precious metal asset class, which unleashes unimagined opportunities for all stakeholders involved. Eric also shared insights why the RCM decided to partner with aXedras in the first place.

New era for digital assets?!

Gareth Pinto (Head of Product at SolidusLink) is committed to democratizing access to physical gold, with a particular focus on incorporating gold into US retirement accounts. He is convinced that this strategy has the potential to double the size of the US bullion market. SolidusLink offers a pioneering solution that allows for the digital purchase of (fractional) legal ownership of gold securely vaulted in locations such as the Royal Canadian Mint. This intuitive approach aims to make investing in gold accessible and straightforward for retirement savers.

Armin Schmid (CPO at Bitcoin Suisse AG) posed the question of whether Bitcoin could be considered the new digital gold, especially in the context of ETF products. He meticulously examined the demand side from a macroeconomic perspective, noting the rising interest among institutional investors, the growing adoption across various industries, and the influence of relevant demographic trends on the future. On the supply side, Armin analyzed factors such as the significant impact of long-term holders, the "halving" events that affect Bitcoin miners, and the cryptocurrency's finite supply. Based on his comprehensive assessment, Armin generally expressed his belief in the potential of crypto and Bitcoin.

Bruno Ciscato (Japan Country Manager at R3 Ltd.) discussed the essential role of trust in existing fiat currencies, highlighting Bitcoin's nature as electronic cash by definition. He argued that gold-backed tokens represent a promising future for digital, trusted currencies, anticipating that an increasing number of players will become willing to embrace them.

aXedras and the industry are leading by example

As we conclude this year's Bullion Integrity Forum, hosted by aXedras and attended by key stakeholders spanning the entire supply chain of precious metals — from mine to market — we are filled with gratitude. The enthusiastic participation and insightful discussions on trust and transparency within the precious metals industry were truly encouraging. It’s clear that our collective commitment to these critical topics is stronger than ever.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of this event. Your engagement is pivotal as we continue to shape a more transparent and trustworthy future for the gold industry.

aXedras thanks all speakers, panelists and participants for such a great Bullion Integrity Forum 2024.


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