By Allie Philpin
As a Barclays customer and a keen interest in all things technical, when the bank announced the launch of their new cloud-based document management service, I was more than a little intrigued. The new service, Cloud It, has been designed for use by their online customers to store their important documents electronically, and securely. So, for example, an online customer would be able to new the Cloud It system to store insurance documents, household bills, passports, important receipts, and other must-keep documents all in the cloud.
These documents can be stored in just about any format, with the exception of music or video files, and there is no space limit for each customer, at the moment says the bank… I suspect that should this new service prove popular, a cap on space per customer will come into force and no doubt a charge for extra space will also ensue; but that’s another debate. Users will also be able to set-up free SMS text alerts notifying them of renewal dates, deadlines, etc.
Great, I thought; this could be a useful service… until I dug a little deeper. Ok, we all have the issue of where do we store these types of paper documents, and we all struggle to find the space as the number of documents increases the older we get! But do we really want to go through the hassle of scanning each document and then uploading to a cloud-based system with our bank? A little time-consuming and therefore probably not; so, that is one negative point against Cloud It.
But the more worrying aspect is the security issue; and this in light of security being peoples’ major concern leading to their reticence in utilising cloud-based services. Barclays has said that it would use encryption but has asked that customers do not apply their own levels of encryption prior to uploading files. Not only that but under the terms of the service, customers aren’t allowed to compress files or add password-protection… Umm, important documents – security protection? Thought that was a key requirement? Whilst this request would appear to be linked to the legalities of being able to access files and disclosure, which Barclays are quick to point out that other cloud storage and backup services are supposed to abide by (but they also allow customer encryption!), I find myself asking why I would then use a ‘secure’ cloud for storage?
And there is another limitation which I find a little bit annoying… if, like me, you’re an online banking customer, you are also no doubt a mobile banking customer; the two services are often used together by many customers. And here’s the rub… the new Cloud It service isn’t available to mobile banking customers! If you’re providing the service for online customers, then why not mobile banking customers? I’m sure if they looked at their stats for online customers, they’d find that a high percentage of them use mobile banking, too. The fact that Barclays has said that they would integrate the Cloud It service into their mobile banking service in the future doesn’t really make amends; this should have been part of the new service from the start.
Think I’ll sit on the fence and observe for a while before I take the plunge… As for pulling in the customers? Possibly; when they’ve resolved the security and mobile banking issues.