The One Bank for ASEAN: Shaping the Gold Landscape from Singapore to China and BeyondBy United Overseas Bank
In 1978, United Overseas Bank (UOB) became a founding member of the Gold Exchange of Singapore (GES), which marked the beginning of the bank’s journey to establish itself as a major player in the gold market. Today, UOB is an active member of the Shanghai Gold Exchange International (SGEI) and the Singapore Bullion Market Association (SBMA), which positions the bank at the forefront of industry knowledge and allows it to play a vital role in the Asian gold industry. This further strengthens UOB’s cross-border capabilities, enabling the bank to connect customers to opportunities in ASEAN and beyond.
Over the past 40 years, UOB has established strong purchase and distribution channels, acquired comprehensive bullion trading expertise and market insights, and developed an extensive global logistics operation. To meet customers’ diverse needs, UOB offers gold and other precious metals trading, providing regional customers with comprehensive solutions beyond FX and interest rate hedging. Customers can choose from a wide range of products and services, including physical gold, derivatives, paper gold investments, and leasing services, across domestic and international markets.
UOB leverages its strong regional franchise and knowledge to connect ASEAN to China through the “Gold Road.” China is the world’s largest consumer of physical gold and remains one of the most influential countries in the international gold market. With the support of the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) and other industry players, UOB completed its first leasing and hedging deal, which enables Chinese domestic gold trade companies to access leasing and hedging services and tap into a new source of raw materials.
UOB works with industry players to recast large gold bars into kilobars and provide IAU (SGE gold located in the China Bonded Zone) gold loans to supply chain companies under the “Belt and Road” initiative via SGEI. This initiative empowers China’s industry with strong refining capacity and low jewelry manufacturing costs, benefiting more customers who can now take advantage of the enhanced connectivity and business innovation between the Chinese and ASEAN gold markets.
As the sole Singaporean bank that offers physical gold investments to retail investors, UOB provides a range of affordable physical gold investment options, such as gold bars and gold coins, as well as paper gold investments, such as the Gold Savings Account (GSA). All of UOB’s gold offerings comply with the Investment Precious Metals (IPM) scheme, exempting purchases and investments from Goods and Service Tax (GST). Furthermore, due to the bank’s strong position in the Singapore gold industry, a designated portion of an individual’s Central Provident Fund (CPF), Singapore’s mandatory social security savings scheme, can be used to invest in UOB’s gold products.
For retail investors seeking a straightforward and accessible way to invest in gold, GSA is a popular option. GSA prices are quoted based on international gold prices in SGD/gram, with a minimum transaction amount of just 5 grams. The low minimum quantity and relatively small capital outlay required allow investors of differing profiles to gain direct exposure to the gold market. Investors can purchase GSA holdings with cash or CPF (up to the designated limit) from UOB by opening the relevant accounts. GSA transactions can be performed at UOB Branches or through UOB Personal Internet Banking and UOB TMRW app. The bank is also working on an enhancement to its GSA product that would allow investors to convert their non-CPF purchased GSA holdings into physical 100 Gram gold bars with the payment of a physical gold conversion premium. The synergy between UOB’s Gold Savings Account and Physical Gold business is a significant development that provides investors with greater flexibility and optionality in their gold investments.
While achieving significant growth in the Asian gold market in recent years, UOB remains dedicated to improving its global network and infrastructure, as well as forming strategic partnerships with global exchanges, refiners, and banks to enhance Singapore’s reputation and status as Asia’s leading gold hub.
Alan Liew, UOB’s Head of Bullion and Commodities Trading, emphasized the bank’s long-term goals, stating, “UOB is committed to assisting our clients in seizing new opportunities and fulfilling their cross-border needs. As the One Bank for ASEAN, UOB is well-positioned to support Singapore’s efforts to be at the forefront of the region’s gold industry.”
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