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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gold Becomes A Live Currency

State-owned Sberbank has begun buying gold from the general public, effectively making gold a tradeable currency for the first time.

"We are the first [commercial bank] to begin buying gold from the general public. It has now become an absolutely liquid commodity on the market," said Andrei Chistikov of Sberbank, which has nearly 80 percent of Russia's private bank accounts.

Thursday, the first day on which Sberbank offered this new service, produced no sellers, but Chistikov on Friday blamed intense media interest for that. Would-be sellers were unwilling to be filmed selling gold, he said.

The bank had advised sellers to return later, and bought its first 60 grams from an individual on Friday.

Until now Russians could buy gold from commercial banks - after paying a 20 percent purchase tax. And it was theoretically possible to re-sell gold at a bank, but in practice none would take it.

"Until now there was nowhere to put gold, it just lay there ... but now it has become a live currency," Chistikov said.