You are here: Home » PF » Features » Others
Business Standard

Looking for a locker? Banks aren't only option

Tania Kishore Jaleel 

Though private players have fewer branches, their costs are competitive

With rising break-ins in their neighbourhood, Brendan and Alexia are looking at locking away their valuables in a safe deposit locker. Earlier, their options were limited to only banks, both public and private sector, but now there are private players that offer this specialised service.

Some of these companies include Kothari Safe Vaults, Sakthi Safe Vaults, India Safety Vaults and Asmita Safe Deposit Lockers. To target the customer, there are innovative techniques as well. Sakthi Safe Vaults, for instance, allows operation of the locker even on a Sunday.

Salil Datar, head, branch banking and NRI Business at Dhanalaxmi Bank, explains, “Unlike banks, these companies are not regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). So, they can stay open longer and for more number of days,” he said.

What limits private players is the reach. Banks do have an edge when it comes to the number of branches that offer the locker facility. Bank branches that offer this facility are located in many more cities compared to the private companies.

At present, Kothari Safe Deposit Lockers has branches only in Chennai, while Sakthi Safe Vaults has its presence only in the four states in south India. India Safety Vaults has two branches each in Mumbai and Pune. But many a times, banks have had to turn away customers because they did not have enough lockers in their branches.

But the number of lockers private players have in each branch is much higher. Kothari Safe Vaults in its five branches has around 2,000-4,000 lockers per branch. In addition, the variety of lockers offered by the private players is much more than the banks.

As far as charges go, these are reasonable for both players. The annual rental is around Rs 1,000-5,550. However, they will also ask you to maintain a security deposit. And, if you do not pay your annual rent, it gets adjusted with the safe deposit. Once that security deposit is crossed and you still do not pay your rent, the bank can break the locker, record the contents of the locker and may be, file a police complaint.

  Bank Lockers Company Lockers
Accessibility Only during office hours; Sundays closed Open all day and holidays. 
Number of lockers Limited number of lockers per bank; can be added 2,000-4,000 per branch
Cost Annual rental (depends on the size of the locker and from branch to branch), security deposit or fixed deposit.  Security deposit, between three months and three years of advance. No annual rental

Banks could also ask the customer to maintain a fixed deposit with them, so that they can use the interest income towards annual payment. R U Trivedi, chief manager at Kothari Safe Vaults, says his company takes three years rental as deposit money, unlike in a bank where one has to pay a monthly rental as deposit. “In a bank locker, the interest earned is adjusted with the monthly rental. We charge between Rs 600 and Rs 4,000 a year, depending on the size of the locker.”

As for the security of the private company lockers versus the banks, some claim that they have even bettered the safety standards set by RBI’S currency ‘A’ chest specifications.

Both banks and private players do insure vaults, though the contents in it are not insured. This is because the contents in the vaults are only known to the owner of the locker. You will have to take an insurance policy yourself to safeguard the contents in the locker.

First Published: Tue, March 29 2011. 00:48 IST