Dubai: Dubai-based MySafe is aiming to cash in on the growing demand for safe deposit lockers in the UAE as many well-known banks across the world and in the country have exited the business.
“Banks across the world have different views on the concept of safe deposit boxes. Most view the service as a loss leader and frankly a service they might feel obliged to provide but strategically, perhaps they would rather not,” Terry Downes, CEO and co-founder of MySafe, told Gulf News.
In some markets, he said the banks have withdrawn from the service completely, in other markets, those who provide the service do so reluctantly and there are long waiting lists for clients to secure a safe deposit locker service.
In the UAE, he estimates that 8,000 eligible banking customers need to wait for many years to secure rental of a safe-deposit box.
To get a locker facility, he said that the customer needs a residence visa to open a bank account and so it is very difficult for regular visiting people to open a bank account and their valuable assets are at risk. They have to either keep it in the hotel vaults, which are not insured, or carry with them wherever they go.
“When I was visiting Dubai to set up my business, I was carrying all my valuable papers and passport in my backpack,” he added.
“What made me start is that banks across the world after the financial crash have re-engineered their business model and got out of the safe deposit box business. I had the first-hand experience in Ireland. Every bank in Ireland exited that business within three years. That led to a crime epidemic in Ireland as there are no alternatives.
“The way the ATM revolutionised cash, I realised that putting the vault in the centre of the city can provide a solution, so I began to explore. I began researching for more than a year and I visited the global safe deposit box manufacturers and biometric security solutions providers,” he said.
Once upon a time, ATMs were available only at banks and transactions can be done only during working hours. That concept has changed and now every shopping mall has different ATM machines and can be accessed at any point of time.
Unlike traditional vaults where management retains one set of key and a customer keeps the second key, Downes said MySafe is a personal service and you alone control access to your safe deposit box.
He said MySafe booking process takes less than five minutes to complete.
“We need a copy of the passport, a valid visa and ID photos. Customers can operate the vault at any time of the day and without talking to anyone. Our safe deposit locker is secured using the latest security and robotic technology.” He claims that this is the world’s first secure, insured and automated safe deposit service.
“Our goal is to create a personal experience at any time of the day. We provide an automated insurance cover of Dh80,000 for every box by Llyods. When I presented the case to Lloyds, they immediately supported us by insuring every box. The logic is a proof of concept for many countries and we have been approached by many firms in Saudi Arabia, Oman, India, Bahrain and Europe,” he said.
It took Downes seven months to secure all the necessary documents, permits and licences to operate its first facility at Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).
He said the technology built into this is by Chubb, the largest manufacturers of safe boxes in the world. Their technology is so advanced that Lloyds do not require any alarms and cameras at the site.
MySafe charges Dh300 per month, inclusive of insurance, for one box. Two people can be registered to one box.
“Our intention is not to create the largest safety deposit box in the UAE. Our game is to create an interest in the market such that we develop this network ourselves and in partnership with the industry or different partners in different segments. Our big expression of interest is to launch a pink version in Abu Dhabi, targeting Emirati ladies,” Downes said.
“We have invested more than Dh1.5 million for the DMCC facility. What excites me is the opportunity to make a difference and the impact. We plan to roll out four more of these units by ourselves this year and are also looking to develop four more of these networks with partners,” he said.