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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bank now offers gold accounts

Bank now offers gold accounts

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A vendor lays gold chains out in a display case at a jewellery shop in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Sren Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

Cambodians can now invest in gold through one of the Kingdom's Malaysian-owned banks, CIMB.

The investment product has been met with mixed reviews from experts, but could tap a popular and traditional means of investment.

CIMB's Gold Deposit Account would give customers a gold-backed investment option without the need to hold the precious metal.

“We understand that there are a lot of people who want to invest in gold but are put off by the complicated logistics,” Heng Thida, head of CIMB's retail banking, said.

Gold prices have climbed substantially since 2002, according to goldprice.org.

They peaked at nearly US$1,900 an ounce last August but have since fallen. Gold sold for as low as $1,577 on Friday.

Ngoun Sokha, director-general of National Bank of Cambodia, said the new product will give customers a greater variety of investment options.

“It is quite new to the market and it offers depositors new choices and expections from their savings,” she said, adding that this was the first bank in Cambodia to host a gold-investment product.

One expert questioned the impact, as well as constraints, the option offered investors.

“It is not so important. Only a limited number of people could enjoy it. Bank deposits should play a more important role than a Gold Deposit Account,” Hiroshi Suzuki, chief executive and economist at the Business Research Institute for Cambodia, said. “The money deposited in banks could be used for lending and would bring growth to the economy. However, the money used for [this] could not be used for lending.”

Potential investors should also be educated on the potential for loss on the metal, which has fluctuated considerably for nearly a year, Suzuki said.

CIMB's Heng Thida agreed that those looking to buy gold through the bank should be aware that the value of the investment could rise and fall over time.

The price of gold in the inter-bank market has appreciated more than 400 per cent during the past 10 years, giving an average annual return of 40 per cent, according to the CIMB statement.

The minimum initial deposit is 19 grams – also the minimum balance required.

Gold purchase will be based on CIMB's gold-selling price, quoted in US dollars.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at kunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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