Trading volumes of digital gold in India totalled four to five tonnes last year -- equivalent to just three per cent of annual gold retail investment -- with an estimated 25 lakh active investors with repeat transactions on various platforms, the World Gold Council said on Thursday.
However, online gold jewellers are embracing technology and innovation to boost online sales post-COVID-19, it said in a market update released on Thursday.
At the same time, the proliferation of mobile apps and banks' digital platforms -- together with the increasing penetration of smartphones -- has allowed gold investment to grow via digital channels.
Internet investment gold (IIG) is becoming a popular choice for gifting and festival purchases (Akshaya Tritiya, Dhanteras). WGC said smartphone penetration and increasing financial inclusion will give a vast swathe of Indian investors the ability to invest in IIG with the swipe of a finger, using mobile wallets/apps or a bank's digital platform.
The number of Indian adults with a bank account more than doubled between 2011 and 2017. Nearly 80 per cent had a bank account in 2017 compared with 35 per cent in 2011 and just 53 per cent as recently as 2014.
Smartphone user numbers grew to over 50 crores in 2019 -- an increase of 15 per cent over 2018 -- and this is expected to exceed 80 crores by 2022.
"Online retail adoption accelerated during Covid-19 across categories," said P R Somasundaram, Managing Director for India region at World Gold Council.
"Though relatively nascent at one to two per cent, an online gold market in India is witnessing an enormous push from both digital players who see this as an opportunity and large jewellers who see this as a necessary supplement to their brick and mortar model," he said.
Somasundaram said there exists a large and relevant opportunity for gold jewellery retailers to improve the end-to-end jewellery purchase experience and establish the 'loyalty loop' with consumers.
"Jewellery buying on most occasions is a well-planned, family decision involving months and years of savings. Therefore, the online experience has to reflect this long-term engagement and cannot sustain as simple transactional market-place."
For retailers, creating a seamless experience integrating offline and online channels will be critical to attract more consumers and differentiate between online gold buying and buying gold exchange-traded fund, he added. (ANI)