CommBank extends cloud storage trial

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CommBank extends cloud storage trial

Tax receipts could grow demand.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia will this week allow more customers to trial its NetBank Vault cloud storage service, in anticipation of a growing demand for the offering during tax time.

NetBank Vault allows users to store up to 1000 files and folders in an “online virtual safety deposit box”. The service was formally introduced late last month, after a 5000-customer trial, and is only open to Commonwealth Bank customers.

The bank advised customers that the cloud storage trial would only be available to a limited number of people, so they may not be able to sign up for NetBank Vault if the trial was full.

A spokeswoman for the bank declined to disclose how many customers had adopted the service since launch, or how many files NetBank Vault now stored.

But she said the service had been “well-received by the customers who have signed up”.

CommBank has not disclosed any size limitations placed on individual files or a user's virtual deposit box, or security measures placed on those files.

“As NetBank Vault is hosted within our data centres, we can scale out as needed. At this stage we have no capacity concerns," the spokeswoman told iTnews.

“When you consider the end of financial year is nearly upon us ... people will be dealing with the pain of searching for hard copy receipts to support their tax claim."

Digital rivals

Analysts said NetBank Vault was likely to compete with rival, consumer-focused digital mailbox offerings planned by Australia Post and Salmat.

Australia Post has proposed to allow customers to "upload and easily find important documents", including mail and bills, on Telstra’s cloud infrastructure.

Last week, it courted financial services firm AMP to send bills to customers through the service when it becomes available later this year.

Salmat planned to launch a similar document storage service, dubbed Digital Post Australia, in partnership with Computershare and US digital postal mail technology vendor Zumbox this year.

It has, however, been locked in a legal battle with Australia Post over the name of the service, which AusPost claims infringes its trademarks.

One analyst noted CommBank had not heavily promoted NetBank Vault externally, so the service had yet to make an impact on investor sentiment.

He expected its success to hinge on which digital mailbox provider gained most traction among users, highlighting security and trust as key drivers of uptake.

NetBank Vault has also been compared with cloud storage service Dropbox, as both allow consumers to store and share photos, documents and multimedia files online.

A consultant familiar with the Australian banking sector said such software- or infrastructure-as-a-service offerings would make customers more “sticky”.

He suggested that banks could introduce hosted accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for small to medium business customers, potentially in competition with vendors like Xero.

“I think this is the future of banking,” the consultant told iTnews, describing CommBank’s business banking platform, CommBiz, as an example of online banking as a service.

CommBank’s spokeswoman said the bank would “continue to evaluate how customers interact” with NetBank Vault during the trial before it decided on whether or not to introduce it as a full service.

“We will watch take-up of this feature closely,” she said.

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