Gold Bar Integrity Programme: Next Steps to SuccessBy Sakhila Mirza, Executive Board Director, and General Counsel, LBMA
In March 2022, LBMA and the World Gold Council (WGC) announced a pilot phase for the Gold Bar Integrity (GBI) joint initiative, which aims to monitor the gold moving through the entire global value chain digitally – from rock to ring – by:
- Ensuring gold supply integrity through verifying its authenticity
- Confirming provenance
- Providing transparency over the Chain of Custody
The initiative aims to increase trust in gold purity and the provenance of gold bars by offering greater transparency across the entire global gold supply chain, mitigating illicit trade risks, and a secure chain of custody to reduce the chance of fraudulent bars entering the formal supply chain.
The Gold Bar Integrity project has two parts: the Security Feature and GBI Database, which will work together to ensure a robust digital ecosystem.
- Security Feature – The Security Feature is a physical feature that will establish the identity and verify the authenticity of a gold bar, akin to a bar passport, which will link to the GBI Database. The market standards for the Security Feature were launched in 2020 by LBMA, and the associated application process opened in 2021. The Association has also established a working group with a panel of technical experts to review the Security Feature applications and determine if they meet the standards. Further updates will be announced once the GBI Database has been established.
- Gold Bar Integrity Database – A transparent ledger of gold bars will give consumers, investors, and traders greater confidence in gold as an asset class and advance standards for the common good of the global industry. The GBI Pilot will provide international market participants with the opportunity to help define the scope of the database, identify priorities, and gain a better understanding of how interoperability may work.
The pilot involves the implementation of the solutions of two vendors with participants’ internal systems. Several global market participants have volunteered to participate in the pilot and will test the two platforms to increase their understanding of the technology and the associated benefits. This will enable participants to see the life cycle of a particular gold bar (from mine to refiner and vault) and work through all the various ways the bar enters and exits the professional ecosystem.
A crucial consideration in the development of this global digital ecosystem is the treatment of data. The pilot will allow for scrutiny of data storage practices and an understanding of governance requirements. Participants will provide feedback on what should be the mandatory data fields and identify the challenges of using the technology.
The pilot is a crucial step towards bringing a digital ecosystem into reality and is expected to last for three months. At the end of the pilot, LBMA and the WGC will review feedback received from the broad selection of participants. Understanding this feedback and identifying solutions to any issues raised is pivotal to determining the next phase of work.
The success of the initiative will be judged on the successful implementation of the following:
- Verifying the integrity of the gold being traded.
- Gold provenance records illustrating the origin and transaction information.
- Chain of custody records to increase accessibility to secondary markets.
- Verification of participants against a set of qualification requirements to ensure ecosystem integrity.
- An interoperable system that can be scaled as required.
- A global integrity ledger with broad acceptance and participation, including all key trading hubs.
Any next steps will be discussed with the wider industry, and together we will help determine the implementation plan.
If you’d like to find out more about the Gold Bar Integrity initiative, or the pilot, please email Sakhila.Mirza@lbma.org.uk. You can find out more about LBMA’s initiatives and events in our newsroom, www.lbma.org.uk/newsroom, or sign up to receive news from LBMA by visiting https://portal.lbmahosting.org.uk.
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