Another innovation bites the dust.
I was a fan of Wells Fargo’s virtual safe-deposit service vSafe. Or at least the idea of it. The service launched in late 2008, before “the cloud” became an everyday term and companies such as Dropbox, Evernote, and Box.net made file storage a competitive business.
The bank was gutsy enough not only to launch a unique service, but also charge for it. I applauded the $4.95 (1 GB) to $14.95 (6 GB) monthly fee at the time, although I personally didn’t use it enough and let the service lapse after the free trial period.
But alas, the bank has apparently given up on vSafe. It’s still listed on the main online banking toolbar (see below), but the tab now leads to a terse statement saying that the bank is no longer enrolling customers (see above). And the product has been purged from the public website.
According to storage startup AboutOne, which is marketing a replacement service for vSafe users, all stored files in vSafe will be deleted on March 28.
Although Wells Fargo stuck with it for more than three years, even marketing it from the homepage, vSafe must have had little traction. That’s not a huge surprise. Even before Dropbox, fee-based secure file storage was a niche offering. And with the onslaught of better known, cheaper (note 1), and more comprehensive cloud-storage services, it was an uphill battle.
However, we still believe the virtual file cabinet is a good idea for financial institutions, especially as a way to speed estatement adoption.
Instead of charging a fee for basic online storage, make it a free place where bank customers can store their electronic bank statements (from you) for the life of their account. Then, consider upselling additional storage features for a monthly fee. Or bundle file storage with other value-adds into a premium online banking account.
1. Dropbox provides 2 GB free of charge, with 50 GB costing $9.99/mo.
2. In our Online Banking Report publication, we wrote about fee-based online services in May 2011; paperless banking and online storage in late 2010; and lifetime statement archives in 2005.