Today we speak to Gaurav Mathur, MD & Founder, SafeGold to understand how SafeGold is shaping the Gold industry through its innovative product offerings.
Read the complete interview:
TechGraph: Could you help give a sense of how far SafeGold has come since its existence? From when it began to where it is now?
Gaurav Mathur: SafeGold was one of the first digital gold platform providers in India which were backed by an institution like the World Gold Council. When we started our operations, digital gold itself was a brand new concept.
In the short period since then, the product now boasts 100 million+ customers who hold 5-6 tonnes of gold. You can find digital gold in 100+ apps including leading banks, mobile wallets, round-up and savings platforms as well as the largest jewelers in the country, like Tanishq.
Let’s go back a step and look at the financial behavior of Indians during the pandemic. Two key observations can be taken from then – investments became digital and individuals started looking at gold leasing options. An amalgamation of these two behavioral evolutions gave private players ideas to digitalize the gold ecosystem.
These actions led to the present-day situation where everything that can be done with physical gold is now accessible with digital gold. The product has evolved and taken the shape of SIPs, jewelry savings schemes, gifting, gold loans and so much more.
TechGraph: How is SafeGold utilizing its sectoral expertise and digitalization to solve the unsolved financial gold industry?
Gaurav Mathur: SafeGold’s larger vision is to enable each player in the gold ecosystem – be it the artisans, local jewelers, or the customers – to have technologically enabled solutions. We want to bring in institutionalized changes to a very unorganized sector.
We are providing these local jewelers with a SaaS-based platform that connects them to digital-first customers. Our next product will be looking at a proposition helping the retail investor grow their gold savings while solving the issue of access to credit and working capital for the MSME jeweler. Our aim isn’t merely to sell more gold but to provide better solutions for the various stakeholders in the gold industry.
TechGraph: Talking about the core gold business, what is the AUM growth that you are targeting for FY 22-23?
Gaurav Mathur: SafeGold has been maintaining a steady pace in terms of numbers. Our AUM has grown roughly 3x every year since we started and we’re looking to maintain that pace of growth.
TechGraph: How does the Russia-Ukraine war affect the gold industry?
Gaurav Mathur: If we look at the data from the beginning of the year and compare it to the current numbers, then yes it can be said that the gold prices have been marginally higher – about 3-4%. However, now it has become relatively more stable. Of course, the war is expected to have a spillover effect in many other parts of the global industry, and resulting fluctuations in the price of the dollar as well as oil can bring the price of gold up.
TechGraph: How is SafeGold leveraging technology to enhance the customer’s gold purchasing experience?
Gaurav Mathur: Despite being the second largest gold market in the world, India did not have a single retail price for physical gold available across the country. If you were a customer purchasing in Cochin, you’d see a very different gold price to someone in Kolkata.
Even within cities, there’s a variance in price based on location and store. So that’s the first place where technology has had a positive impact on the customer purchase experience.
Secondly, customers could not purchase fractional quantities of gold – the minimum ticket size of 1 gram (approximately Rs. 5300 currently) is out of reach for much of the country. Digital gold gives small savers a way to save gold in quantities that work for them.
Thirdly, customers can now view gold prices and make purchases at any time of day or night, from the comfort of their phones. Digitization has changed the game when it comes to customer convenience in gold as well.
TechGraph: What are the new trends in the gold industry?
Gaurav Mathur: Gold is not just a piece of metal that can be locked up in lockers. How it is being perceived by investors is changing and becoming more on the lines of ‘an asset that can provide returns.
RBI is also giving it a more lustrous sheen by reworking the existing Gold Monetisation Scheme. From the government’s perspective, it is all about repurposing the gold that is existing in the Indian ecosystem to drive down the gold imports.
Hence, we see the hiked tax on gold imports. Soon we will see more marketplaces that offer the option to lease out your gold. This is great news as leasing out the metal as a digital currency is more convenient.
TechGraph: What are the tools and technologies to redefine the way of making investments in gold in the new normal?
Gaurav Mathur: We feel that customers, be it retail investors or MSME jewelers, are agnostic to the technology used to power something – they are looking for solutions that help them achieve their goals faster or give them options they didn’t have before.
SafeGold uses a combination of traditional database technology, delivering services over APIs in India, as well as blockchain-based solutions for our overseas markets in Thailand and the UAE.
We do not believe in a single size fits all approach that results in a new technology being deployed like a hammer searching for a nail – instead we customize each experience and product, both from the front end and underlying architecture, to solve the problem.