Travellers passing through Frankfurt Airport in Germany have a new vending machine to try out — one that dispenses pure gold.

TG-Gold-Super-Markt, the first gold vending machine in the world, opened for business this week at Terminal 1, departure hall B, of the airport.

The machine is filled with gold bars of one, five and 10 grams, starting at 31 euros ($A54) for the smallest chunk, which the marketers say is 20 per cent cheaper than buying gold at a bank.

Which doesn't mean much, considering it is 30 per cent higher than the market price of gold on any given day.

Yet the Stuttgart-based company behind the machines hopes to cash in on disillusionment in money markets following the worldwide slump and install such machines at railway stations, airports and shopping centres around Germany.

A computer in the machines is linked to the Frankfurt Dax stockmarket index and updates the price of gold every few minutes. A camera monitors transactions for money laundering controls.

Thomas Geissler, head of TG Gold, said: "German investors have always preferred to hold a lot of personal wealth in gold, for historical reasons. They have twice lost everything following world wars. Gold is a good thing to have in your pocket in uncertain times."

Demand for gold in Germany is unusually high among ordinary people and there is often a waiting list at banks and brokerages.

Juergen Kienast, a Hamburg lawyer flying from Frankfurt, paid 245 euros on Tuesday, the first day of operation for the machine, for a 10-gram chunk of gold.

"The price might go through the roof by the time I land," he said. "I figure that in a year's time I will have recouped my money anyway."