As we reported in this week's Bank Monitor Update (subscription required), Wells Fargo recently announced a new service that will allow customers to store electronic documents within their Wells Fargo online account. This new service, called vSafe, is supposed to allow customers to store "virtually any popular file format (e.g. Word documents, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, photos, audio and video files)"; includes predefined folders such as "Medical", "Legal" and "Family" and customers can customize their own folders; and will allow customers to automatically upload their Wells Fargo bank statements.It is unlikely that Wells is trying to break into the file storing business and compete with Xdrive, or give flickr a run for the money in photo sharing. However, leveraging a reputation that is based on trust and security by allowing clients to store sensitive and important documents such as wills, health proxies, birth certificates, etc. is a very unique way of servicing the customer and creating client loyalty. After all, if all of your important legal documents are backed up at your bank, how likely are you going to leave for a competitor?
One issue that will be interesting to see played out is the question of legality of electronic documents. If as a customer I have my will stored electronically on Wells Fargo's website and then my house burns down, is the e-version a legal document? Wouldn't it be neat if Wells Fargo could offer a special notary service that allows clients to go into a branch and scan documents and have them notarized? Clearly, we're not legal experts and have no idea if that is even possible, but it would make this an even more valuable service (and get people into the branch so they could be sold to as well).
At any rate, the service is not yet up and running (at least our accounts currently have no access to this) and Wells has not mentioned how much storage they will provide to clients, but we look forward to seeing this unique feature in action.