To the Editor:

I would like to respond to the Aug. 25 Viewpoints article "Let's Invent a Cyber Safe Deposit Box to Keep Personal Information Private" by Kimberly Hoover [page 13].

Cyber safe deposit boxes have been available for the past year. Though there are probably upward of 20 dot-coms offering virtual file storage, almost all are offered solely via the Internet. The traditional purveyors of brick-and-mortar lockboxes, the banks, have been slow to offer this service to their online banking customers, but all that is changing.

Online banking has yet to hit its stride, but the Boston-based analyst International Data Corp. projects 40 million consumers will be cyber-banking by 2003.

As bank portals become more prevalent, they will be offering more robust content. Online mortgages and auto loans, credit cards, e-commerce, and safe deposit boxes will be the rule rather than the exception.

What is exciting about these virtual storage boxes is the amount of functionality that is available to the consumer.

All of the players offer the ability to securely and selectively transfer encrypted computer files from your PC to your own password-protected box.

Some even allow you to grant access to your box to colleagues or family - on a folder-by-folder basis. For instance, you might want to give your mother in Topeka access to your Digital Photos folder to check out the latest grandchild, but more than likely you would not let her peek at your Accountant folder.

My company,, lets you take all of the miscellaneous pieces of paper in your life and use a simple fax machine to scan, then automatically digitize, encrypt, and store them in your virtual box.

The warranty for the big-screen TV, the deed to the house, the kids' report cards, and important medical information - now found in kitchen drawers, trunks in the attic, or in that file folder that you can't quite put your finger on - can be safely stored in one place, accessible from any PC in the world with an Internet connection and a basic browser.

A good example of this merging of the paper and digital worlds can be found on your tax return. Some of us now file electronically - and love the convenience - but also have paper returns sitting in a drawer at home or in the office.

Using the product, consumers can create a "Taxes" folder and securely archive all of their documentation, paper and electronic.

Many might question the privacy of their documents after all of the recent controversy surrounding the tracking of "cookies" and the subsequent marketing of Internet viewing habits.

Check out the vendors in the online storage space for the advertising links on their sites; read their privacy policies.

There are quality-driven companies to which financial institutions and the integrity of customer data are central concerns. Just ask.

Douglas Kilgour
Vice president of marketing

Note to Readers

"Viewpoints" is a regular feature in American Banker, appearing every Friday. It serves as a forum for discussion and debate on a wide range of issues in the financial services industry, including management approaches and strategies, legislative and regulatory matters, and public policy in general.
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