BEIJING -- China has installed its first gold vending machine, located in Beijing's popular Wangfujing Street shopping district.
Patrons can insert cash or a bankcard to withdraw gold bars or coins of various weights based on market prices. The maximum withdrawal allowed is 2.5 kilograms or one million yuan (about $160,000) worth of gold.
The machines are operated jointly by Beijing Agricultural Commercial Bank and a gold trading company. Plans call for installing more of them in secure locations such as gold shops and private clubs.
As the world's second largest bullion consumer, the Chinese government is actively encouraging its citizens to purchase more gold in order to hedge against inflation.
Chinese consumer demand for gold soared 27% to 579.5 tons in 2010, according to the World Gold Council. India, the world's top consumer, saw a 66% increase to 963.1 tons.
Gold vending machines already operate in the U.S., UK, Europe and Middle East.