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Break into the Bank of England… via an app

The Bank of England has thrown open the doors of its gold vaults to the public – via a new virtual tour.

Bank England Gold 2013 7 12Enlarge
Queen Elizabeth II views stacks of gold as she visits the Bank of England on December 13, 2012 in London, England. (Eddie Mulholland/AFP/Getty Images)

For the first time in its 300-plus-year history, the Bank of England has thrown open the doors of its gold vaults to the public – via a new virtual tour.

The central bank launched an app on Thursday which enables users to explore what really goes on behind its windowless walls on Threadneedle Street, London.

The tour includes the Bank of England's gold vault – one of the largest in the world, which houses over 400,000 bars, weighing 13kg, or two stone, each.

There are also annotated 360-degree images of the cash vaults, dealing room and even the first floor committee room, where the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets each month to set interest rates.

But despite the sensitive nature of some of the locations featured, a Bank of England spokesperson said it had "no security concerns" following the launch of the app.

>The bank hopes the app will give users an insight into both the iconic building and its purpose, with monetary policy and financial stability explained throughout the tour.

"We are trying to give people an insight into what goes on. With all the information nuggets in each of the images you can learn as much as you want about what we do and why we do it," a Bank of England spokesperson said.

Users can also delve into the history of the bank, which was founded in 1694 and has occupied its Threadneedle site since 1734, including the true story of the "Bank Giant" – a 2-meter-tall clerk whose body was buried in the gardens to protect it from grave robbers.

The launch of the app, which is free from the Apple Store and Google Play, comes at a time of growing interest in the Bank of England and its strategies.

Canadian Mark Carney became the first non-Briton to be appointed Governor of the Bank of England earlier this month, and surprised markets by issuing a statement following his first MPC meeting last week.

Sterling fell sharply against the dollar following the statement, which gave guidance on the bank's future policy.

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