According to the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), the umbrella body of the financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), “Some banks offer the service of safe deposit boxes to their customers. This is a service whereby the bank leases or rents space to a customer. The customer uses the boxes to keep items for safe keeping.
”Customers are required to fill a form where they declare that what the customer puts in the box is legal and complies with regulatory requirements. They also indemnify the bank, which means the bank is not liable for any damages or losses of the items in the box.
There have been some questions about Bank safe deposit boxes, we’d like to help clarify how this service works. #depositboxes
— Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) (@KenyaBankers) March 20, 2019
The items in the safe deposit box are placed by the customer; therefore, the bank rarely knows what the contents are. This is to preserve the customer’s confidentiality and also to provide the customer with a sense of security.
Safe deposit boxes are therefore a service provided by banks purely based on trust — that the customer will keep items that are legal and do not compromise the bank.
Banks aren’t allowed to open deposit boxes. The only instance when a bank can open one is if the lease has lapsed for over 2 years & customer has not communicated intent to renew the lease.
In this case, the bank is required to surrender the contents to Unclaimed Assets Authority.
In any case, involving customers, banks are legally bound by confidentiality and therefore in the Barclays deposit boxes case, the bank could not disclose any information, including responding to social media questions.
Source- Kenya Bankers Association.