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Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Security vehicle firm banks on Hong Kong mega bridge to boost cross border transport of money, gold, and jewels

Shenzhen-based Vpower has readied vaults and armoured vehicles in Hong Kong to move from merely shuttling bank notes between the city and the mainland to transporting a host of precious goods

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 11:21pm

A company that moves some 600 million yuan between Hong Kong and the mainland every day is banking on the multibillion dollar Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge to expand its suite of services and internationalise its business.

Vpower Finance Security, a mainland armoured vehicle firm that counts 18 banks and financial institutions among its shareholders, now has exclusive rights to transport yuan notes between Hong Kong and mainland China.

But it also wants to cash in on the city’s thriving trade in luxury items, such as gold, jewellery and precious metals, and offer cross-border transport services for precious goods.

This market has high growth potential, given that mainland big spenders tend to splash out on purchases of high-value items overseas, said company president Hu Ke.

Vpower, founded in 1997 in Shenzhen, opened a storage facility of about a few thousand sq ft in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong last September.

It spent HK$50 million outfitting it with reinforced concrete and steel vaults, protected by vibration and motion detectors. It has 30 bulletproof armoured trucks with mechanical lock systems and emergency buttons, each costing HK$1 million, for transporting over 1,000 tonnes of valuables.

Hu said the company once provided secure transport for a mainland client to move a “legendary luminous pearl that was claimed to be worth over 2 billion yuan (HK$2.3 billion)”.

“In future, we see great potential for transporting precious goods such as chips, smartphones and medicinal herbs such as cordyceps sinensis,” he said.

The 35.6km mega bridge and tunnel between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau is expected to be ready by the end of the year and will substantially reduce travelling time. Government estimates say that it will take only 45 minutes to travel from Zhuhai to Hong Kong International Airport, down from the current four hours.

Vpower has 3,000 employees and 600 armoured trucks in its headquarters in Shenzhen, which is on mainland China bordering Hong Kong. It boasts an annual revenue of 6 billion yuan.

In Hong Kong, it has 100 staff members including 70 security personnel. Eighteen of its 30 armoured trucks are currently dedicated to providing cross-border transport while 12 circulate within Hong Kong.

Its competitors in Hong Kong are established security services players, such as G4S, which has the largest fleet of armoured vehicles at about 90, Guardforce, with about 80 and Brinks, about 40.

But the company said its cross-border service gives it an edge, as it has more vehicles dedicated to shuttling between the mainland and Hong Kong than its competitors.

Its general manager for security Wallace Chan said the company prided itself on its stringent security processes.

Among other things, it uses a centralised GPS system to monitor each armoured truck’s movements. “During the delivery process our staff will keep constantly talking to the truck’s security head with our communicative device. Every day they will use different secret codes to alert us to any on-site dangers,” he said.

Hu said so far its Hong Kong business was “satisfactory” and had achieved a monthly revenue of several millions. The company was now mulling over its next investments.

It wants to expand its services to regional markets by both capitalising on Hong Kong’s world-class financial status and global experience, and the mainland’s economic strategies, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area plan.

“We hope to reach out to Asian countries first such as Malaysia very soon and Macau would be the next stop of the expansion road map next year,” the group’s Hong Kong director Li Xiaofeng said.

A spokesman for government body InvestHK said they saw dynamic business opportunities from the bay area development.

“The area as a whole is a huge, fast-growing market not only for multinationals with global functions but also SMEs and entrepreneurs from around the world. The opportunities arising from the increased flows of people, goods and capital within the bay area will be immense,” he said.