The Return of the Safety Deposit Box

In an unstable economic environment, in an era of digitisation, and amidst increasing concerns about issues such as crime, cyber felony, natural disasters and loadshedding, the safety deposit box is making an extraordinary comeback.

In recent years, safety deposit boxes have surged in popularity – to the point where, today, they are seen as essential and heavily wait-listed.

In Europe, North America, Asia and here in South Africa – where high-tech operators such as Knox have been leading the charge – the humble safety deposit box has received a dramatic upgrade, and is now the secure storage solution of choice for everyone from wealthy collectors to crypto investors to regular folk people simply looking to keep their valuables and family heirlooms and personal documents safe.

Though it has been steadily growing over the years, the market was supercharged by the Covid-19 pandemic. But this wasn’t just a temporary trend. According to multiple studies and research reports, demand is forecast to continue rising at a considerable rate over the next decade.

“We’ve seen extraordinary appetite for safe-deposit boxes in recent times, and that demand has really sky-rocketed since Covid,” says the founder of Knox, which operates high-security vaults from an impregnable facility that used to be the US embassy. “Some say they are preparing for a more difficult economic environment, others are simply looking for a secure, flexible safe storage solution away from their home.

“The uptake continues to intensify; we get inquiries and new clients on a constant basis.”

It turns out, there are a number of factors behind the renewed popularity of safety deposit boxes.

In an increasingly unstable macroeconomic environment, there is growing investment in tangible assets, especially commodities and precious metals such as gold silver and diamonds (even as markets fluctuate, hard assets are proving extremely durable, with the gold price, for example, rising by more than 83% over the past six years). Of course, these commodities require secure storage. 

Knox’s founder also highlights what he terms a growing “flight to quality”, with customers seeking greater security and improved service provided by established firms such as Knox.

“Bank safety deposit boxes are often seen as a relic of the past,” says … “Banks have been lax with upgrades, and their security and access systems are generally outmoded, inefficient and low-tech, certainly in comparison with the new breed of specialised security storage firms like Knox who draw on the latest technology and systems innovation.”

However, it’s certainly not just high-net-worth individuals seeking the security of the safety deposit box. Indeed, many of Knox’s clientele are simply people who want to store important documents such as property deeds, legal papers or items of sentimental value.

“Customers do not need to be wealthy,” says Knox’s founder. “Our clients range from ultra-wealthy to middle class, storing items ranging from jewellery and gold coins to keys, documents, stamps, antiques – anything, really, they are desperate not to lose.”

But there’s another – on the face of it, counterintuitive – phenomenon driving increased demand for safety deposit boxes.

In the digital age, while hard-copy documents are now stored online in digital format, the opposite is true of digital currencies, such as bitcoin. Indeed those with cryptocurrency holdings are discovering that transferring their digital assets offline and onto paper is the most secure and reliable storage solution, protecting them from phishing and other forms of cyber hacking. Safe deposit boxes are especially ideal places to store precious access data for digital wallets – as many unfortunate investors have discovered in hindsight.

For modern investors, high-tech, hard copy storage is now firmly back in fashion. Millennials in particular – far from seeing safe deposit boxes as something their parents used – are flocking in their numbers to this tried and tested form of secure storage.

Another driver for this demographic is the rising number of people sharing living quarters, downsizing or “semigrating”.

“Obviously, the smaller the living area, the less space there is for storing the items that matter most,” explains Knox’s founder. “And with people sharing their living space, that, too, creates a particular need for off-site storage for valuables.”

It all adds up to a perfect storm that has seen the safety deposit box regain its rightful place as the secure storage solution of choice.

Looking for a place to secure your precious items and valuable assets?

What could be more secure than our state-of-the-art storage facilities, offering easy access and the latest technology, as well as automatic contents insurance up to the value of  R1 000 000 at no additional fee.

Call Knox today.

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