SINGAPORE -- Visitors to casinos in Singapore can now convert their winnings into gold on the spot thanks to newly installed vending machines that dispense the precious metal.
Singapore-based company Asia Gold ATM on Wednesday introduced the SMART Gold ATM at two resorts -- Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. The machines dispense gold bars and coins weighing 1-20 grams each.
The items available in the machines include collectibles such as a 1-gram ingot bearing the likeness of a Merlion, the symbol of Singapore. The prices range from roughly US$60 to US$1,500, and are made exclusively of 24-karat gold. Using a cloud-based system, the machines receive real-time data for gold prices.
To make a purchase, customers can choose among options presented on a large 3-D touch-screen that offers 360-degree views of the products and descriptions in English, Chinese, German, Russian and Arabic. The product is dispensed at the bottom of the machine. Users buying gold products as a gift have the option of inputting the recipient's email address and recording a video message via a built-in camera. The recipients are notified via email where to pick up their gold.
Asia Gold ATM said it decided to launch the machines domestically because of the city-state's status as "a travel destination for affluent travelers and an increasingly important hub for the gold-trade industry." The two resorts, in particular, attract high-earning individuals from around the world.
The majority of Singapore's population is of Chinese descent, who have a culture of giving gifts -- often gold -- during the Chinese New Year season. Singapore also has a low crime rate compared with many other Asian countries, making it an ideal location for vending machines carrying valuable goods.
Asia Gold ATM plans to roll out two to three new machines in Singapore in the near future, while eyeing other Asian locations for expansion.