Bank of China (Hong Kong) commemorative centenary HK$100 banknotes issued this week have become a cash cows for Hongkongers and mainlanders.
Some buyers have made thousands of dollars in the past few days, after repeatedly queueing for tickets to buy a pair of banknotes at HK$150 each and selling them to dealers at more than five times the initial price.
Banknote prices fluctuated in a matter of hours, varying from district to district but have been falling since Monday when they were first issued.
Kitty Wong Nga-lai, who queued five times at the bank's Wan Chai branch in the past two days for tickets to buy the notes, made HK$5,200 from the six she sold. She sold her first pair of notes on Tuesday at HK$2,800, as their codes contained lucky numbers. Then she sold the next two sets yesterday for HK$1,700 and HK$1,600.
'People say prices are falling, but I'm not too worried. I'll make money anyway because the cost price was only HK$300 [for a pair of banknotes].' The jobless 38-year-old has two tickets for today and Saturday.
She started queuing on Monday night for Tuesday's tickets, and when the bank decided to hand out all remaining tickets on Tuesday, she queued four more times. The bank is selling 1.1 million single commemorative bills until Monday and all tickets for buying the notes were distributed on Tuesday.
At the North Point branch yesterday, three vocational training students, who were in the queue on Tuesday, bought two pairs from two people outside the bank for HK$1,700 and HK$1,600, while professional dealers were buying at HK$1,500.
They left soon afterwards saying: 'We've got no more cash. We're just having a try at investing.'
Also at the branch was Zhi Ruirong from Zhaoqing . After selling her first pair for HK$1,500 yesterday, she still had three more tickets, one of which is for Monday. 'I was going to go home today, but now I think I might stay a few more days and will have to take leave from work,' said the shoe factory worker.
BOCHK is also selling 100,000 sets of three uncut notes and 20,000 sets of 30 uncut notes, for HK$600 and HK$6,000, respectively. The notes are legal tender but are not intended for general circulation.
BOC, founded in Shanghai in 1912, is the only bank that has been continuously operating on the mainland for 100 years.
Hong Kong Numismatic Society president Ma Tak-wo expects demand to remain stable, especially on the mainland. Dealers sold the banknotes for 1,000 yuan (HK1,230) each in Guangdong, and prices could go even higher in Shanghai and Beijing.