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Book Gold for as Little as Re 1, E-tailers Go All Out to Woo Consumers

E-tailers, in order to revive the dying demand for gold in a country that boasts of being the second-largest consumer, have now adopted the strategy that real estate developers introduced when the sector was experiencing a slump

News18.com

Updated:December 18, 2018, 2:50 PM IST
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Book Gold for as Little as Re 1, E-tailers Go All Out to Woo Consumers
Representative image. (REUTERS)
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E-tailers, in order to revive the dying demand for gold in a country that boasts of being the second-largest consumer, have now adopted the strategy that real estate developers introduced when the sector was experiencing a slump. India-based digital applications are now letting customers book gold for as little as Re 1.

Retailers are offering online sales in bite-sized portions. Customers can start their booking at Re 1. Buyers only get physical delivery of the metal once they have paid enough for one gram of gold, currently about Rs 3,200.

“The low barrier of entry, compared with a minimum purchase of 1 gram in the traditional market, and faster transactions, which can be done on a phone in about 40 seconds, are the biggest lures for the product,” Gaurav Mathur, managing director of digital platform SafeGold told Bloomberg. The platform has partnered with payments apps such as Flipkart Online Services Pvt’s PhonePe to sell gold starting at that price. “It’s a low-risk way to try the product,” Mathur added.

Demand for gold is falling, partly as a result of government measures, higher local prices and the metal’s fading appeal among more youthful customers. That’s forcing jewellers to adapt online purchases to appeal to a more internet-savvy, younger population.

“A lot of people have been buying at Re 1,” according to Mathur.

Since its launch last year, about 3 million people have already transacted on the platform and the company, which counts the World Gold Council as one its investors, is targeting to raise this to 15 million by next year, he said. The market is still small compared with the country’s overall consumption of gold, which stood at 524 tons in the nine months ended September.

India’s consumption of gold, almost all of which is imported, has been declining because of the government’s efforts to curb its trade deficit and combat so-called black money by discouraging investors who used the metal to evade taxes.

Demand for the yellow metal last year fell by about 23 percent from a peak of 1,002 tonnes in 2010. Meanwhile, benchmark gold futures in Mumbai are set to post a third year of annual gains in 2018 aided by a weaker rupee, which fell to a record low earlier this year.

Platforms offered by SafeGold, Augmont Enterprises and India’s most popular digital payments service Paytm, backed by China’s Alibaba as well as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, are trying to make inroads into a market dominated by traditional retail stores and chains such as Titan Co, the country’s top maker of branded jewellery, and Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri Ltd.
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