If you're security minded, you might keep your important paper documents in a safe-deposit box at your local bank. If those documents are digital, you can keep them in a virtual safe-deposit box so that they're not only secure
, but also available from anywhere.
Wells Fargo Bank will soon offer its retail banking customers a personal online safe-deposit box that it calls "a natural extension" of the company's 156-year security legacy.
The Wells Fargo vSafe service is the first online storage solution offered by a financial services company, according to Katherine McGee, senior vice president of Wells Fargo's Internet Services Group.
Like other online storage solutions, vSafe offers accessibility from any computer with an Internet connection. Documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, and even media files can be stored. McGee told us that the bank did extensive research with its consumer and small-business customers and honed the product to match their needs. The offering is integrated with the Wells Fargo Online Banking service so that customers can have account statements automatically added each month
"It's secure online storage with an easy-to-use interface built for customers based on their needs," she said. The company offers a set of boilerplate folders to help customers get started quickly; there's also an option to create unique folders and subfolders. McGee said that online forms simplify the procedure of consolidating data from a plethora of sticky notes into one safe place (such as a PDF document). Users can add folders and upload files from any computer.
Security a Priority
With sensitive documents being uploaded and stored, security is naturally a priority to customers. According to McGee, vSafe "offers secure storage, and it's available through the Wells Fargo online banking session, so we leverage all the security we use for online banking," as well as additional measures that encrypt information as it crosses the Internet and while it's stored. An RSA SecurID token that adds a layer of authentication is an available option for a one-time fee of $25.
Help will be available via a toll-free customer service number as well as through online help systems. Customer service representatives will not be able to see any stored customer information even as they assist customers, McGee said.
The Price of Convenience
McGee says there will be different plans available, depending on the amount of storage required. For $4.95 per month, you can buy 1 gigabyte of storage -- the equivalent of about 10,000 documents, she said. For 3 gigabytes customers will pay $9.95 a month, and $14.95 will buy you 6 gigabytes.
The vSafe service will be rolled out this summer and should be available to all customers by the end of this year.
While the offering may fare well with existing Wells Fargo customers, it will compete with some well-established -- and cheaper -- services such as Mozy, which offers 2 gigabytes for free and charges $4.95 a month for unlimited storage, as well as Microsoft's SkyDrive, which offers 5 gigabytes for free.