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Pawnbrokers in Hong Kong

Nam Cheong Pawnshop in Sham Shui Po.

Pawn shops are one of the oldest businesses in Hong Kong[when?][citation needed]. In 2015, there were 205 pawn shops in Hong Kong, with the number increasing slightly over the five previous years.[1]


History and developmentEdit

Pawnbroking sprang up in Hong Kong as it developed into an entrepôt[citation needed]. Jeun Yun Aat (晉源押) was the first pawn shop in Hong Kong[citation needed]. In 1926, the Hong Kong government strengthened its regulations on pawn shops and promulgated pawn legislation. Since then, pawnbrokers are required to be licensed establishments.[2] These regulations allowed the industry to become more and more popular[citation needed].

The activities of the pawnbrokers were limited by the Japanese during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in the Second World War. They flourished again after the war in 1945 as a consequence of post-war inflation and a shortage of resources[citation needed]. To circulate funds and jump-start the economy, the Hong Kong Government urged the pawn industry to revive itself. With the support of government, The Hong Kong & Kowloon Pawnbrokers' Association Limited was set up in 1947. There were only 11 members at the time. Between 1950 and 1960, the number of members increased to more than 90, reaching 138 in 1994. Today the Association has more than 161 members and combined with non-member pawn shops, there are approximately 250 pawn shops in Hong Kong. Pawn shops are mainly located on Hong Kong Island, particularly Central, and Kowloon. Because many jewelers and goldsmiths shop are located in Central, the mortgage and loan amount is usually higher.[3][citation needed]

In order to prevent the sale of stolen property in pawn shops, Hong Kong law stipulates that pawn shops must check the IDs of would-be clients looking to pawn items. Items are under strict verification and registration. Pawn shops must keep digital records of all exchanges. If any suspicious items are found in the pawn shop, the pawn shop is to immediately notify the police.[citation needed]

On 12 March 2013, the first "Pawn Shop Stocks", Oi Wah Pawnshop Credit Holdings Limited (01319.HK), was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This novel sort of pawn shop can cooperate with the market instead of going with the set square to constitute a special private credit market in Hong Kong.[4][relevant? ]

Features of pawn shopsEdit

Dong Zung


Dong ZungEdit

A dong zung is a large rectangular wooden screen, similar to a pair of doors, located right behind the entrance of the pawn shop. The screen is tall enough to block passersby from seeing inside. Clients can be concealed by the board to avoid embarrassment.

Pawning counterEdit

The counter of the pawn shop, which is behind the tall board, is typically higher than the average person. There are window frames in the counter. Clients need to give their mortgaged properties upward to the pawning counter. This design shows the higher status of the pawnbrokers. Prices seem to be lower due to the psychological effect caused by this design[citation needed]. Another reason for setting a high counter is for security. It is hard for passersby and clients to see the environment and workers inside the pawn shop.

Names of pawn shopsEdit

Pawn shops are a traditional industry in China. The majority of the shops use names including words meaning harmonious (for example 'tung' (同), 'wo' (和)) and/or prosperous (for example 'chang' (昌), 'fat' (發), 'fung' (豐)). The idea behind such a name is an entreaty and hope for having glorious and flourishing business development.[5][unreliable source?]

Pawning procedureEdit

Ze Cau Baan
  1. The customer visits the pawn shop and gives the item to be pawned to the shop assistant.
  2. The shop assistant will assay the item based on the original price and the current condition of the product.
  3. If the customer accepts the valuation, the shop assistant will verify the documents that can prove the identity of the customers.
  4. The pawn ticket and cash will be issued to the customers.
  5. The customers will count the cash immediately and the process is completed if there is no further problem.[6]

Special terms in pawningEdit

  • Ceot Zat (出質): Clients offering up items to be pawned.
  • Ji Suk Gung/Ciu Fung (二叔公/朝奉): A worker who identifies and appraises the pawned goods.
  • Maa Zi (碼子): The number sheet used to track exchanges.
  • Zaap Gaa (雜架): Clocks, antiques, etc.
  • Jyut Lik (月曆): The lunar calendar. Since months for the lunar calendar are one to two days shorter than the solar calendar, if pawnee repays the loan one day later than the deadline, they need to pay interests for one additional month.
  • Lau Dong Ban (流當品): The deadline for repaying loans and getting back the pawned item(s) ends.
  • Leoi Gung Gwang (雷公轟): The mortgage interest is as terrible as the rumblings of thunder.
  • Ze Cau Baan (遮羞板): A big shield standing in front of the main gate. It is used to hide the situation inside the store.
  • Gau Ceot Sap Saam Gwai (九出十三歸): The method pawn shops uses to calculate interest. For instance, when the pawn is worth about 10 dollars, only nine dollars will be lent and in the end thirteen dollars will be needed to repay to loan.[7]


  1. ^ Tsoi, Raymond (17 August 2015). "Why Hong Kong pawn shops are far from fading". EJ Insight. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  2. ^ The Hong Kong & Kowloon Pawnbrokers’ Association Limited. . Extracted on 04 November 2013
  3. ^ 於彥北. 香港當鋪何以經久不衰:"押"字招牌后有乾坤 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2013. Extracted on 3/4 November 2013
  4. ^ Oi Wah Pawnshop Credit Limited. Extracted on 04 November 2013
  5. ^ 周有泉. 香港人的‘二叔公’- 淺談當鋪 Extracted on 3 November 2013
  6. ^ The Hong Kong & Kowloon Pawnbrokers’ Association Limited. Extracted on 3 November 2013
  7. ^ Macau General Chamber of Pawnbrokers. Extracted on 3 November 2013