Nova Vaults Inc. is Canada's first non-bank safety deposit box center

Monday, May 04 2015 05:49 PM

Nova Vaults starts first-of-its-kind service to stash your valuables

Numbers don’t lie.

That is why a new Halifax company is staking its future on a single, telling statistic: a 10-year waiting list for Canadians searching for a safety deposit box at a bank, trust company or other financial institution.

Nova Vaults Inc. wants to capitalize on that shortage — and then some. Starting today, clients will be able to walk into the Canada’s first non-bank safety deposit box service at the old Blockbuster Video location on Quinpool Road and gain access to their valuables round-the-clock.

“Securing the valuables in life is a necessity,” Nova Vaults president Andrew MacKean said in an interview earlier this week. “

When there is no other option, necessity breeds innovation.” Enter Nova Vaults, majority owned by Dutch-born businessman Richard Homburg. MacKean said the company can offer what traditional bank safety deposit boxes cannot.

Round-the-clock access for one thing, MacKean said. Shorter transaction times for another.

Customers use an access card to enter the safe room. Then, after their identity is confirmed by biometric thumbprint scan and pin code, a robotic arm retrieves the strong box from a hermetically sealed vault. From there, steel doors retract, revealing the box, which has to be opened with an individualized key. Once you have retrieved your passports, deed or grandmother’s jewelry, the box retracts, the steel curtains close and your box is automatically returned to the vault.

MacKean points out that safety deposit box expenses are an income-tax deduction in Canada. Nova Vaults also offers safety deposit box insurance, underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, to protect against damage or loss. Early-morning drivers on Saturday will get a sense of how secure valuables are at Nova Vaults.

Quinpool Road will be closed down from 7 a.m. on as a crane lowers a 9,000-kilogram modular vault into the company location.

All told, the outlet will have three vaults with capacity for about 200 safety deposit boxes each. MacKean said that almost half their boxes have been pre-reserved by various law and wealth management firms on behalf of their clients. He said he is not surprised.

MacKean said that while the concept of non-bank safety deposit box centres is new to Canada, it is old hat in Europe, where 1,500 exist across the continent. In addition to the Halifax location, Nova Vaults is already scouting possible locations in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and plans to open in those cities starting in September. “There over 10,000 Google searches a month in Canada for ‘Where do I get a safety deposit box?’ ” said MacKean. “The market is out there.”