Cashes Safeway personal checks

Stockpile: Apple shares are now available at the supermarket checkout

At the supermarket checkout, quickly put a pack of chewing gum, a bag of sweets and an Apple share on the conveyor belt - or a share from Facebook or Coca-Cola. In the United States, it is now possible to buy stocks in the grocery store. Large chains such as Kmart, Office Depot and Safeway are adding this unusual product to their range for the upcoming Christmas business.

Strictly speaking, they don't sell shares, but rather corresponding gift vouchers in credit card format - those colorful plastic cards that are available in this country from Amazon, Douglas or Zalando. The difference: Instead of a book, a skin cream or a pair of shoes, the recipient exchanges the card for a share.

Avi Lele had the idea. The former patent attorney wanted to give his nieces and nephews shares for Christmas. But the classic way through a bank or a securities dealer quickly became too tedious for him, as he would have had to first find out personal data such as the social security number of his siblings, he told him Wall Street Journal. So he founded the company Stockpile and devised a procedure for buying shares with a gift card. In addition to professional investors such as Mayfield and Sequoia, actor Ashton Kutcher also has a stake in the Silicon Valley company.

“Gift Card for Stock” is written on the blue letter with the plastic cards. The buyer can choose between $ 25, $ 50, and $ 100 coupons. Since the Apple share currently costs around 110 dollars on the stock exchange, the recipient will receive 0.23 Apple shares if he redeems the 25-dollar voucher on the Stockpile website. If the share once acquired gains ten percent in value on the stock exchange, the value of the share in the stockpile account also increases to the same extent. The giver has to pay the fees: with a 25-dollar card there is an additional $ 3.74, with a 100-dollar card 5.99 dollars. The recipient only needs to register with their email address and social security number and redeem the voucher. In the case of children, the parents must agree to this.

For 99 cents per order, everyone has the opportunity to buy additional shares in addition to the voucher cards via the website of the online broker licensed by the US financial supervisory authority. Plastic cards with the names of 20 popular US corporations will initially appear on the shelves. In addition to Apple, Facebook and Coca-Cola, it also includes Berkshire Hathaway, the shares of investor legend Warren Buffet. Index funds that track the well-known S&P 500 stock index or the development of gold and silver are also on offer.

For example, under some Christmas trees in the United States there could be $ 25 gold this year. A general “share card” can also be found in the markets. The recipient can then choose the appropriate company at will.

In Germany, at least this year, the cards will not be found. So far, vouchers can only be redeemed by Americans or people with a permanent residence on the other side of the Atlantic. Apart from the question of whether such a playful handling of stocks would even get caught in this country, all sorts of legal points would have to be clarified beforehand.

Are the plastic cards on the supermarket shelf a purchase recommendation? In this case, a corresponding product information sheet might be necessary, with which the buyer is informed about the risks of the share, for example. And is the recipient even qualified to own shares - or at least fractions of them? As is well known, the German Banking Act prescribes a corresponding examination of the customer.

With reference to these points, legal experts consider it difficult to imagine that securities will soon be sold in German shopping markets and that customers will be able to take shares with them at the checkout. In the United States, too, checking the identity of the future shareholder is not the responsibility of the supermarket operator, but that of Stockpile. But if an additional check is required by the online broker in Germany, the fun factor should disappear very quickly.


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This article first appeared on Welt.de.

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