Bank of China

Traders swoop on banknote buyers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am

More buyers cashed in on commemorative HK$100 banknotes marking the Bank of China's 100th anniversary yesterday, selling sets of uncut notes for up to 20 times what they paid for them.

The sale of 695,000 individual HK$100 notes last month led to queues around the block at bank branches, while traders waited outside to offer buyers a quick profit.

Millions of Hongkongers also applied to buy sets of three and 30 uncut notes, and the lucky few who won a lottery to buy them were besieged by traders armed with crisp HK$1,000 notes when they collected their purchase at banks yesterday.

Outside the Wan Chai branch yesterday morning, around a dozen banknote traders, most speaking Putonghua, waited to pounce on anyone who left the bank with the commemorative paper bag that indicated they were among the lucky few buyers.

One trader, Jacky Chen, said he was from a local company and was prepared to pay between HK$5,000 and HK$10,000 for the set of three notes, sold by the bank for HK$600, and between HK$50,000 and HK$100,000 for 30 notes, sold for HK$6,000. He intends to sell them on the mainland.

James Fong, a clerk, was of particular interest to them. They learnt that his set of three notes each had a serial number ending in the lucky eight, while they did not contain the unlucky numbers four and seven.

Some even tried to snatch the bag and he refused offers of between HK$8,000 and HK$12,000.

Then a woman approached him, criticised the traders and offered HK$12,000 for the set.

'I really want them for my own collection. I had made nine applications with nine ID cards from my family members but none of them got it,' she said. Fong said he was happy with the price. 'I had expected HK$10,000 at first. The traders were too fierce. The lady had better manners so I sold it to her.'

Another buyer, Christina Li, sold her set of three uncut notes for HK$9,500. Hong Kong Numismatic Society president Ma Tak-wo says the sets are likely to end up with collectors in cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

'The price is too high for Hong Kong markets, and Hong Kong dealers mainly trade antique banknotes.'

The bank received more than 1.79 million pre-order applications for the 100,000 sets of three notes and more than 1.65 million applied for the 30-note sets. About 96 per cent of applicants were Hong Kong residents.