The executive in his shining armor
11/02/2018
SHENZHEN VPOWER FINANCE SECURITY boss Hu Ke finds that the cashless society trend has dented his company's business. He has turned to Hong Kong to help enterprises transport valuable goods. Lin Wenjie reports.

Ex-banker Hu Ke seems to have the whole world on his shoulders each day, making sure that all the astronomical loads of cash being transferred to and from banks in Shenzhen under his watch are safe and sound.

But, despite the growing popularity of electronic transactions on the Chinese mainland, which may appear to have taken some of the heat off him as cash shipments wane, he's dead set on making up for the loss. Apart from cash, transporting valuables - gold, platinum, diamonds and jewelry - has become part and parcel of his company's business.

 Hu has been president of VPOWER - the first security transport company designated by the central bank, the People's Bank of China, in 1997 - for the past eight years.

He sees the rapid advent of e-commerce having planted a deep dent in his company's revenues which have been shrinking by the day. The natural response is to transform and expand VPOWER 's operations to Hong Kong by providing armed escort services for enterprises or individuals in transporting valuables, taking full advantage of the escalating financial, trade and social links between the SAR and the mainland.

Founded in Shenzhen some two decades ago, VPOWER has 18 investors drawn from the ranks of mainland banks and financial institutions. It now employs more than 3,000 people with a fleet of 600 armored vehicles in Shenzhen.

"We mainly provide cash escort services for banks in Shenzhen. But, with the rapid development of digital payments, cash transactions have been declining. Our business has since started to come down. So, we'll be expanding our business to other places while transforming cash escort services to escort services for valuables," Hu tells China Daily.

The former banking executive joined VPOWER in 2010 as the electronic payment trend took hold in the market. He saw the drift an VPOWER figured out ways to ride out the digital age.

Anticipating the vast opportunities that deepening cross-boundary links would bring, VPOWER has invested HK$50 million taking its armored vehicles and high-tech security systems to Hong Kong to meet the high demand for the transportation of valuables, as well as cash, from Hong Kong to the mainland.

VPOWER  set up its Hong Kong unit - VPOWER FINANCE SECURITY (HK) - in September last year with an initial strength of 100 employees and 30 armored vehicles. With just more than a year in the city, the company has managed to make ends meet, raking in millions of Hong Kong dollars in revenue monthly.


Links fueling demand

"Hong Kong, as a collecting and distribution center for luxury goods, such as gold and silver jewelry, diamonds and luxury watches, has a huge demand for valuables transportation. Furthermore, the strengthened relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland means bigger demand for such services between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. This is where our advantage lies, aided by our years of experience in Shenzhen," says Hu.

The most expensive item VPOWER had ever escorted was a legendary luminous pearl worth 2 billion yuan ($318 million) owned by a mainland businessman. The escort fee charged was based on the value of the goods, so "that's not a small amount of money", according to Hu.

With the Greater Bay Area taking shape, VPOWER has jumped on the bandwagon, helping the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society to deliver and safeguard gold bullion between Hong Kong and the Qianhai Free Trade Zone in Shenzhen.

"Hong Kong is just the first step in our global strategy," Hu continues. "We want to expand to Southeast Asia and follow the Belt and Road route in future."

VPOWER has also stepped up cooperation with securities companies in Frankfurt, Dubai and Singapore, and intends to team up with US security company Brink's to jointly develop the valuable goods escort business.

VPOWER 's Hong Kong office is located in a rather inconspicuous building in Tsuen Wan - just a five-minute drive from two police stations. Its interior design resembles a perplexing maze surrounded by motion detectors and surveillance cameras. One needs to take a lift and use an access card to use all the automatic doors and walkways, and then pass the facial recognition system to reach the vault, taking approximately five minutes. So, in the event of a heist, the police could be at the scene in the nick of time.

There are also two armed security officers guarding and patrolling outside the vault, which provides custodial services for valuable items.

According to Hu, VPOWER adopts a unified three-tier operational strategy - unified management of its regional bank vault, unified dispatch and control of armored transportation vehicles, and unified training and management of security guards.


Efficient strategy

"This strategy helps us perform smoothly and efficiently, especially through unified training and management. By implementing semi-military management, our armored security guards work and live together. We have strict rules for them. We make a roll call every night and evaluate their performance every quarter. Under an elimination mechanism, 30 percent of the lowest-rated employees will be retrenched every year."

To ensure every staff member stays alert while on duty, VPOWER has a set of rigid rules to restrain their behavior when they are out or in vehicles, including their standing position, gun-holding pose and the length of time they take for lunch. The control room is in contact with the guards by walkie-talkie every five minutes to make sure that everything is under control.

Strict rules may be just one of the measures to guarantee staff discipline. VPOWER also wants its staff to feel the company's warmth by offering various opportunities to help them develop their interests and hobbies, such as setting up hiking and chess clubs and organizing travel for employees annually.

One of the biggest challenges VPOWER faces is the lack of talents, says Hu, with the company developing at a rapid pace.

"We need to maintain sufficient mobility in our company because the job's nature requires strong and energetic young people. But, every year, we can only have half of our headcount filled in Shenzhen. The situation in Hong Kong is much better. We're providing better-than-average wages and benefits in the industry, as well as a comprehensive promotion system to attract young talents. But, young people nowadays find it difficult to bear hardships," he says.


Contact the writer at cherrylin@chinadailyhk.com


(HK Edition 02/09/2018 page10)


VPOWER, a dazzling enterprise


Since the establishment of its subsidiary in Hong Kong, VPOWER has quickly opened up the market based on the mature escort mode of Shenzhen, combined with the actual situation and needs of Hong Kong, and has won a reputation with efficient and quality service. In addition, VPOWER uses Hong Kong as a window to connect the mainland-Hong Kong-foreign distribution network of cash, gold, jewellery and valuables, filling the gaps in the country and the world at present, and is therefore widely accepted by the media and demanders’ attention.

Recently, China Daily exclusively interviewed Hu Ke, chairman of the VPOWER in Hong Kong, and reported on the financial section of China Daily and the focus section of the official website of China Daily.


First, the demand for valuables escort has increased dramatically

At present, the demand for domestic valuables transportation is difficult to meet, and the safety of many logistics companies and express delivery companies is not enough to ensure the safe transportation of high-value items. However, with the rapid development of the economy, there are more and more high-value products, and the transportation problem that has followed has become a huge challenge. The most expensive item that VPOWER once escorted was a legendary night pearl worth 2 billion yuan ($318 million), owned by a mainland businessman.

As a luxury collection and distribution centre in Hong Kong, such as gold and silver jewellery, diamonds and luxury watches, there is a huge demand for the transportation of these valuables. It includes the secured transportation needs of Hong Kong, the secured transportation needs of Hong Kong and the mainland, and Hong Kong and international secured transportation needs.


Second, VPOWER innovation and development

VPOWER is gradually developed by the bank's cash escort. In recent years, due to the popularity of electronic payment, the use of cash has decreased, which has affected the company's development to a certain extent. VPOWER quickly responded by extending the escort service to a category of gold, jewellery, and valuables with high-value attributes. At the same time, VPOWER takes Shenzhen as the base point and covers the escort network to major regions of the country.


Third, the layout of the Hong Kong market

The important step in the reform of the VPOWER is to make full use of the links between the Hong Kong SAR and the mainland's growing financial, trade and society. In 2016, it invested 50 million Hong Kong dollars with armored vehicles and advanced security systems to form VPOWER Hong Kong. Expanding operations to Hong Kong to provide enterprises or individuals with armed escorts for valuables including cash.

VPOWER Hong Kong is located in an unobtrusive building in Tsuen Wan. It is only a five-minute drive from the two police stations. Its interior design is like a confusing maze surrounded by motion detectors and surveillance cameras. It needs to pass through the crotch lift inside the company and use a security smart access card to pass the automatic door and pedestrian access. Then through the facial recognition system, enter the vault, the whole journey takes about 5 minutes. Therefore, in the event of a theft, the police have enough time to arrive at the scene in time.

VPOWER Hong Kong follows the three core centralized management modes of VPOWER: reconciliation of regional treasury, reconciliation and control of armored transport vehicles and reconciliation training and management of security personnel. The mature business system and sound management model helped VPOWER Hong Kong to quickly open up the market and expand its revenue and maintain it at millions of Hong Kong dollars per month in just two years.

At the same time, in the formation of the high-speed zone of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, VPOWER has followed the footsteps to assist the "Hong Kong Gold and Silver Exchange" to provide warehousing and escort of gold between Hong Kong and Shenzhen Qianhai Free Trade Zone.


Fourth, in line with international standards

With the global strategy of VPOWER, Hong Kong is only the first step. VPOWER will use Hong Kong as its external window to gradually expand into the Southeast Asian market. In the future, it will expand according to the “one belt one road route, opening the way for the circulation of RMB, foreign currency and valuables. To provide safe, economical, fast and efficient security logistics services for countries and regions along the route.


Note: China Daily is the China National English Daily. It was published in 1981. It is an important window for China to understand the world and the world to understand China. It is the preferred Chinese English media for high-end people at home and abroad. It is an effective entry into the international mainstream society. The Chinese newspaper with the highest reprint rate of foreign media is also the media that holds the largest number of large-scale international conferences in China.