Keeping bitcoin safe isn’t easy. If the wild currency fluctuations don’t get you, then it’ll be the exchanges going pop in the night and taking a chunk of BTC with them, or the myriad digital wallets whose security systems failed to fend off the hacker hoards lured by all that traceless digital coin…
The brave new world of crypto-currencies is undoubtedly a veritable Wild West of risk.
So why not convert your bitcoin into gold bars? European bitcoin storage startup Netagio — which launched its cold storage bitcoin vault offering back in January, mitigating the risk of holding BTC by keeping most of the coin offline in a secure vault — has extended its service to let customers trade their bitcoin for gold bars, and park their potential risk/reward.
Or, and here’s where it get’s all Wild West again, vice versa: Netagio is offering to ingest your gold and spit back some bitcoin in return. (That stack of shiny ingots you own isn’t really doing a whole lot — so why not convert it to a virtual pile of bitcoin that will go up and down faster than you can say ‘BTC’…).
Netagio says its users can now convert bitcoin into physical 100g gold bars — which will be insured and stored (for a fee) in one of its maximum-security vaults in the mountains of Switzerland, complete with armed guards and hundreds of metres of rock between your precious metal and the grasping outside world. (Netagio’s parent company, GoldMoney Group, stores gold bars for a living so it knows a thing or two about offline storage of precious stuff.)
Or, if you want to watch your gold virtually melt away, all you have to do is convert it to 100g bars and deliver them to Netagio — which will then credit your account with the equivalent BTC.
The company is also now offering bitcoin trades for three national currencies: British pounds, Euro or U.S. dollars, using what it describes as a traditional brokerage model. It says it’s working with a network of bitcoin providers for this so it can take into account factors such as location and exchange rate to ensure customers get the “best possible deal”.
Netagio says the bitcoin <-> gold exchange rate is calculated on the most recent bitcoin and gold prices. It’s charging 1.99% commission on any purchases — with the fee paid in bitcoins.
Customers buying gold with bitcoins pay a storage fee of 0.3% per annum, also payable in bitcoins. Storage of bitcoins with Netagio is free, although customers are charged a small fee when they move BTCs out of storage.
Expanding from pure storage into offering exchange services via its platform is how Netagio previously said it planned to monetise its free-to-use bitcoin accounts. Starting by emphasizing the security piece first makes plenty of sense, given the recent implosion of one of the oldest bitcoin exchanges, Mt.Gox.
Mt.Gox’s chaos does offer others an opportunity to step in — if they can win bitcoin users’ trust. Netagio’s cold storage vault should help with that. And for the portions of BTC not stored offline, it offers digital accounts that have two-factor authentication and can be set by customers to allow access to their bitcoin only from preset, user-defined locations to further enhance security.