Transactions of gold, silver, platinum and palladium bars (bullion) in London are cleared and settled electronically on a net basis through a system operated by London Precious Metals Clearing Limited (LPMCL).
LPMCL clearing system
LPMCL is owned and managed by four LBMA Market Maker banks: HSBC, ICBC Standard Bank, JP Morgan and UBS. The banks use the unallocated precious metal in their accounts to settle trades between themselves, as well as trades on behalf of their customers and their customers’ sub-clients. Although deals are settled and cleared in London, it is truly a global market with counterparties located in different parts of the world.
LBMA clearing data
On average, over 20 million ounces of gold and more than 200 million ounces of silver are cleared on a net basis each day in the Loco London Precious Metals Market. Get the latest figures from LBMA’s monthly clearing data.
There are two types of bullion accounts: unallocated and allocated.
Most bullion in London is traded and settled on an unallocated account basis, where the customer does not own specific bars but has a general entitlement to an amount of metal. It is the most convenient, cheapest and most commonly used method of holding metal. It works very much like a bank currency account.
Allocated accounts are opened when a customer requires title or ownership of specific bars, with the dealer holding them on the client’s behalf. Clients’ holdings are identified in a weight list of bars, showing the unique bar number, gross weight, the assay or fineness of each bar and its fine weight. Credits or debits to the holding are linked to the physical movements of bars to or from the client’s physical holding. In this respect, it is like a safe deposit box with the account operator acting simply as custodian.