Six years after the haircut on deposits in Cyprus and it seems that fear still prevails considering the rising number of safe deposit boxes kept in banks and not only. Specifically, the island’s two biggest lenders – Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank – today maintain approximately 17,000 safe deposit boxes.
The alteration of the island’s banking map last summer after Hellenic Bank took over the Cyprus Co-operative Bank and clients got transferred to the new owner seems to have intensified that feeling of uncertainty. Cash in safe deposit boxes is viewed as more secure in case their bank either collapses or proceeds with a bail-in in a bid to stay afloat.
However, there is no interest on cash and other valuables such as gold bars and jewellery stored in these boxes but it is not certain these are taxed either. In addition to the haircut, deposit rates offered by banks these days are so low that this is another factor contributing to the option of maintaining a safe deposit box.
Insiders told Phileleftheros that Bank of Cyprus today leases some 10,000 safe deposit boxes within its 26 branches island-wide. Specifically, there are boxes at nine of its branches in Nicosia and Limassol, at five branches in Larnaca and Famagusta and at three branches in Paphos. The Bank offers six different box sizes, not all available at all of its branches.
Annual charges depend on the box’s size. The price to rent one the size of which is up to 6,000 cubic centimetres, that is the smallest, is €60 per year. A €150 per year charge concerns the biggest safe deposit box which is 50,000 cubic centimetres.
A customer’s first three visits to the box room are free of charge, but for each additional one the charge is €15. Bank of Cyprus also has premier clients for whom twelve visits per year are free of charge.
At the same time, Hellenic Bank today leases 7,000 safe deposit boxes, 2,500 of which were transferred from Co-op Bank clients in September 2018. From 2013 till now, Hellenic had to add boxes at four branches in Nicosia, one in Limassol and one in Famagusta.
There are three safe deposit box sizes, but charges on Co-op bank clients differ from those on Hellenic’s.