22 Jan
22Jan

If you currently hold precious metals, valuable jewellery, or important documents at home in Singapore, it is always susceptible to thefts and fires. Even if you get a heavy home safe, it is not foolproof—in 2023, thieves made away with a 200kg safe1 from a temple, which is what makes safe deposit box services in demand today.

In Singapore, there are four main types of safe box services:

  1. Traditional Bank Vaults (e.g., DBS, OCBC, UOB)
  2. Traditional Safe Deposit Box Services by Security Companies (e.g., Certis CISCO, Secom)
  3. Traditional Safe Deposit Box Services by Bullion Dealers (e.g., Bullion Star, Silver Bullion)
  4. Private Automated Safe Deposit Box Vaults (e.g., Vault@268, STARVAULT)

In this article, we will focus on the comparison between Traditional Bank Vaults and the emerging alternative—Private Automated Safe Deposit Box Vaults.

1 Temple thieves: 200kg safe carrying some $3,000 stolen from Bedok Temple. The New Paper. (2023, July 14). https://tnp.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/temple-thieves-200kg-safe-carrying-some-3000-stolen-bedok-temple

Are Traditional Bank Safe Deposit Boxes Worth It?

Bank Safe Deposit Box, Bank Locker, Bank Vault

1. Need a related bank account

With most traditional banks like DBS, OCBC, or UOB, you will first need an existing bank account / open a new bank account with them to enjoy their safe deposit box services. For example, to be eligible for the DBS Safe Deposit Box, you need to have either a DBS Savings Plus, DBS Autosave Account, DBS Current, or POSB Savings account.

2. Requires a minimum deposit

To rent certain bank lockers, you will also need a minimum amount of money deposited. OCBC has a deposit fee of $150 that is only refundable when you return the keys. Private automated safe deposit box services like STARVAULT also have a security deposit of $200 that will be refunded when you move out and return the card and keys. So you should make sure to read the fine print carefully for any additional fees that might be required.

3. For VIP customers only

Most of the safe deposit boxes in banks are reserved for their VIP customers (e.g., OCBC Premier, DBS Treasures). To be a DBS Treasures member in 2024, one will need to maintain $350,000 in deposits or investments with DBS. OCBC Premier Banking Customers will need to maintain a minimum average monthly deposit balance of S$200,000. 

4. Limited access during office hours only

You may only be granted access to your items based on the bank’s opening hours. For instance, for DBS Treasures, their safekeeping services only operate from Monday to Friday (8.30 am to 4.30 pm), and Saturday (8.30 am to 1 pm). So if you need your items urgently, these bank lockers are not as easily accessible.

5. Minimum 1-year commitment

Banks in Singapore, such as DBS, UOB, and OCBC, all require a minimum of 1-year commitment for the rental of a safe deposit box. 

6. Traditional security mechanisms

Currently, all safe deposit bank vaults in Singapore, such as Hong Leong Finance and Bank of China use a traditional dual-locking mechanism for the safe deposit box service. This is how it works: you will be brought into a room full of safe deposit boxes by a staff member. Two keys are required at the same time to retrieve the box, one from the customer and one from the staff. Once the box is retrieved, you will have to physically bring the box into a private room to access it. Afterwards, you and the staff will have to return the safe deposit box to its location and lock it together.

Private Automated Safe Deposit Boxes 

Automated Safe Deposit Box at STARVAULT

1. Highly secure & automated safe deposit system

Currently, the automated safe deposit box system by all 3 private companies in Singapore, STARVAULT, VAULT@268, and Smart Secure Storage @SG, is provided by Gunnebo, an MNC headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

Gunnebo is a global leader in security solutions, offering innovative products and services to control the flow of people and protect valuables from burglary, fires, and explosions.

The automated safe deposit box system that Gunnebo provides is a matured security product that is provided to banks and institutions around the world, such as HSBC, Bank of China, and Standard Chartered, to name a few. 

Gunnebo Security Products for Global Companies

It is essentially an “ATM” system, where all the safe boxes are stored in a highly secure manless vault, where no human access is allowed (except for annual maintenance). There are no staff, security guards, or other customers in close proximity to your safe deposit box and your valuable items. You retrieve the box by a multilayered access control system, using card access, PIN code, and fingerprint verification to call for the box. A robot brings you the box via a secure opening to a private room for you to access the box and your items. 

The automated safe deposit box service is highly secure, private, and convenient.

2. 24-hour access

Automated safe deposit box services give you 24-hour access, all year round, as it is automated. This makes it convenient as you never know when you may need to gain access to your valuables. 

3. Bank-independent storage

Storage of your assets at private vaults is conducted outside the banking system. You do not need a bank account to get a safe deposit box. STARVAULT, as a privately owned safe deposit box provider, is not obligated to disclose client data to third parties, the sole exception being data required by the Singapore Courts or Singapore Customs. In addition, we do not act as a financial intermediary or asset manager, nor do we trade in precious metals. Thus, STARVAULT can offer you maximum discretion with optimal anonymity. 

3. Multiple layers of security

Private automated safe deposit box services in Singapore include many layers of security precautions to ensure an impenetrable system for the items stored. Here’s what STARVAULT’s security system looks like:

  • Our boxes are within a custom-built steel plate reinforced concrete vault which is off-limits to all staff and customers. There will be no one in close proximity to your box at all times.  
  • Our storage area has an alarm system monitored 24 hours by CCTV (at every corner of the vault) and an on-site security guard. 
  • There is a multi-layered access control system (face recognition, card access, fingerprint, and PIN code) before you can access your stored items.
  • The safe deposit box will be brought/transported directly to you in a private secure room via a robot. This eliminates the risk of theft.
  • OTP verification from the customer is required for any change of critical function, such as adding agent access to the box, changing customer contact information, or moving out of the box. Of the 3 private vaults in Singapore (STARVAULT, VAULT@268, and Smart Secure Storage @SG), STARVAULT is the only one with this OTP verification feature that allows the customer to have full control over their safe deposit box.

4. Cost-effective with flexible pricing plans

All safe deposit box services in Singapore, including banks, security companies, private automated vaults and precious metal dealers, have a minimum of 1 year commitment for its service. STARVAULT is currently the only safe deposit box provider with a monthly plan. The minimum commitment is 1 month. STARVAULT also provides both monthly and yearly plans.

5. Immediate availability

At STARVAULT, you can register and get a safe deposit box immediately without much administrative hassle. This means you don’t need to worry about opening a bank account or a premium account before getting access to safe deposit box services. 

6. Additional protection

We offer a gas suppression fire protection system, so your items will not get wet in the unlikely event that the fire protection system is triggered. Most other safe deposit box providers have a water sprinkler fire protection system, which results in a risk of water damage during an unlikely event of fire. STARVAULT also has 24/7 air-conditioning running to protect the quality of your items.

How Much Does a Bank Locker Cost Compared to Automated Safe Deposit Boxes?

BankSmall Box
(price per annum)
MediumBox
(price per annum)
Large Box
(price per annum)
Requirements

DBS
(source)
$261.60$359.70$501.40Saving or Current Account for DBS or POSB
UOB  
(source)

$256.80
$321–$363.80$449.40-492.20Premier Banking account holders only
OCBC
(source)
Undisclosed
Premier Banking account holders only
Singapura Finance
(source)
$180$180-220$240-280Maintain a savings account with an $800 security deposit

Hong Leong Finance
(source)
$200$280$350A security deposit is required
Automated Deposit Box ServicesSmall Box (price per annum)Medium Box (price per annum)Large Box(price per annum)Requirements
STARVAULT
(source)

$360*-432*
promotional rate

$660-792-None
Vault@268
(source)
$888-
$1388

None
Secure Smart Storage
(source)
$200 + GST-$300 + GSTNone

Note: these tables are updated as of Jan 2024; there are certain box sizes (e.g. x-small, x-large) that are less common and therefore not included, but they can be found in the original source

Rent an Automated Safe Deposit Box at STARVAULT

Automated Safe Deposit Box at STARVAULT

One of the most remarkable aspects of Starvault is its exceptional value for money. The pricing was reasonable, considering the high level of security and luxurious amenities provided. We were able to enjoy top-notch security without breaking the bank.” [read the full review]

Traditional Bank Safe Deposit Box
Automated Safe Deposit Box at STARVAULT

  • Need a related bank account
  • Requires a minimum deposit
  • For VIP customers only
  • Limited access during office hours only
  • Minimum 1-year commitment
  • Different security mechanisms
  • Highly secure & automated safe deposit system
  • 24-hour access
  • Bank-independent storage
  • Multiple layers of security 
  • Cost-effective & flexible pricing plans 
  • Immediately availability
  • Additional protection

So if you’re:

  • Investing in precious metals (gold, silver, platinum),
  • A foreigner in Singapore who wants to store important documents in a safe place,
  • Moving to a temporary home/renting a place and want to protect your items better, 
  • Renovating your home and need somewhere to store valuables

STARVAULT’s automated safe deposit box services are a great alternative to consider when it comes to safeguarding your valuable items. If you’re still in the midst of evaluating your options, we welcome you to take a tour of our facilities and see firsthand how our security storage boxes work. If you have any queries or concerns, feel free to contact us as well.