Demand for lockers at banks swells

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

May 14, 2015-

On Wednesday morning, a woman in her late 40s walked into the Maharajgunj branch of NIC Asia Bank and asked for a form to apply for a locker. In the next 15 minutes, two more people had joined the queue with the same request. The scene points to a growing trend among people to find a safer place for their valuables in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake.

Banks and financial institutions (BFIs) in Kathmandu have seen a surge in the number of applicants for lockers. People who were once reluctant to deposit their valuables in bank lockers have started to change their minds after they saw houses levelled to the ground by the massive quake, making them fear for the security of their precious possessions.

“We have witnessed a growth in the number of people looking for locker facilities,” said Sashin Joshi, chief executive officer of NIC Asia Bank. “We are now running out of lockers at our major branches.”

Similarly, Bhuvan Dahal, chief executive officer of Sanima Bank, reported a swell in customers wanting to rent lockers. “The demand has been overwhelming at all our branches in the Kathmandu valley,” said Dahal, adding that locker facilities were available only at selected places outside the valley.

The bank has been thinking about extending the locker service to all its branches and expanding the number of lockers where it is presently available due to overwhelming demand.

Safe deposit lockers allow people to store their important documents and valuables in a secure environment. The lockers have multiple safety features including double key lock. Depositors can access these lockers as per their convenience during business hours. The bank branches offering a locker facility have a secure room housing the lockers. It is heavily guarded by security personnel and is under 24-hour CCTV camera surveillance providing maximum security.

According to bankers, people can choose from lockers of different sizes appropriate to their needs. They are required to hold an account with the bank if they want to rent a locker.

The annual charge for a safe deposit locker varies from bank to bank and ranges from Rs1,500 in most development banks to as high as Rs10,000 in prestigious commercial banks.

President of the Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA) and chief executive officer of NMB Bank Upendra Poudyal said that banks had been overwhelmed with inquiries and applications for safe deposit lockers. According to Poudyal, the locker facilities are secure in multiple ways, and the fact that banks have to pay compensation for the property deposited in case of damage has made a significant impact on the general public.

“Each and every asset of banks is insured. Banks are synonymous with safety and they are liable to pay compensation to their customers if there is any kind of loss,” Poudyal said. This is why cash and valuables stored in private homes are being brought to banks for safe keeping, according to Poudyal. He added that there was minimal chance of loss of property from bank lockers as there are two keys, one with the bank and the other with the customer.

Poudyal said that NMB Bank too had witnessed a significant growth in demand for safe deposit lockers, and he predicted that it would increase in the days to come as public life returns to normal and banks resume full-fledged operations.

Published: 15-05-2015 08:37

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