Wells Fargo & Company will soon offer its retail banking customers a personal online safe-deposit box. The Wells Fargo vSafe service is designed to store digital records or copies of records, such as financial statements, loa

n and tax documents, and even wills. It is expected to roll out this summer and be available to all Wells Fargo customers by the end of 2008.

The service will allow Wells Fargo customers to access any stored documents through the secured Online Banking service from any computer that has an Internet connection. Wells Fargo maintains that customers need not fear a breach in security since the bank will institute the same level of security used for all their online banking services. Additional measures, however, will be in place to encrypt information as it crosses the Internet and while it's stored. An RSA SecurID token that adds a layer of authentication, for instance, will be available for a one-time fee of $25.

Prices will vary for different plans based on the amount of storage required. Customers will pay $4.95 per month for 1 gigabyte of storage, comparable to about 10,000 documents. $9.95 a month will buy customers 3 gigabytes of storage while $9.95 a month will buy 6 gigabytes.

Wells Fargo will face competition from cheaper and well-established 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.

Nonetheless, Wells Fargo expects success within their own customer base and beyond, claiming to be the first financial services company to offer this type of service to customers. It remains to be seen if this will be the case since most people these days are still leery of storing personal information on the Internet.

By Kathleen Clark
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