Consumers can get electronic statements for free. But few people do. VaultStreet CEO thinks he knows why.
VaultStreet is a clever new company that you'll instantly get if you're sick of dealing with paper financial records from your bank, brokerage, employeer, and so on. It's s simple pitch: You sign up for electronic statements from your financial providers, and direct them to be sent to VaultStreet. It then collects them for you and keeps them organized.
Of course, you can sign up for electronic statements without using a third-party organizer. Few people do, however. VaultStreet CEO Carter Kirkwood says it's less than 10 percent of U.S. consumers, despite the growing awareness of the environmental benefits. There are reasons to stay away from electronic documents, some of which may be the reasons consumers are doing so. For one, getting statements via e-mail is a good way to lose them: You might not see them when they come in, and there's an even better chance they won't be archived in any useful way. Also, the electronic statements are not usable as proof of income or assets if you're trying to sign up for a loan.
ValueStreet solves these and other problems. It organizes your statements and keeps them safe, although you do have to trust the company a great deal if you send it all your paperwork. If you later need official financial documentation, Kirkwood says banks will accept the veracity of a statement from VaultStreet.
In the future, VaultStreet will offer a scan-and-shred service to help you deal with your paper archives, as well as new statements.
As someone who's sitting on more than 15 years of financial statements that I can't throw out and don't have the in-house shredding capacity for, I dig the VaultStreet pitch. What I don't dig is the price: $200 a year (a free trial is also available). That's a lot for a service that most people will see as insurance, not something they use every day. VaultStreet is useful, and needed, but at that price it's going to be a very tough consumer sale.
Selling to corporations and banks as a value-add service might work, though. Kirkwood told me he's in negotiations.
VaultStreet was one of my preview picks from the Launch Silicon Valley conference.
See also: Mint, Quicken Online, and other online financial services.