It is not an idea that might excite venture capitalists. Or, for that matter, many others, too.
But banks are keen (some might say desperate, given the competition they face from non-banking channels) and will do just about anything to hang on to their customers – even get into cloud storage services, something that is the domain of pure-play companies like Dropbox or technology behemoths such as Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Commonwealth Bank’s NetBank Vault is a case in point – the first such offering by an Australian bank even though Australia Post, among others, have similar plans in the pipeline. After a trial lasting two months, the bank is opening its cloud-storage service and – tamely perhaps – pitching it as a new, efficient tool to manage receipts and avoid losing tax rebates.
The silver lining in your tax cloud
NetBank Vault customers can use virtual safety lockers, linked to their online bank accounts, to save important documents such as pay slips, scanned copies of passports/drivers licences and receipts.
To drive home its point, CBA even commissioned a survey of 1,055 Australians and came up with a whopping number of $7.3 billion, the amount Australians paid in excess taxes because people who lost receipts squandered rebates.
Apparently, the average Australian taxpayer lost receipts worth more than $1,000 each tax year. The lost receipts, typically, were of stationery and office equipment (25%); fuel (24%) and parking (24%).
“Our research shows that millions of Australians may be missing out on large sums of money because they simply can’t find receipts at tax time,” said Drew Unsworth, the bank’s general manager of Online Banking.
“We live in a virtual world, so searching through reams of paper every year does not make sense. What’s more, with many everyday expenses now being created online, the need to keep piles of paper receipts is slowly disappearing,” he added.
The bank’s survey also came up with another interesting number – 2.2 hours, the average time each Australian spent in searching for receipts and supporting documentation for their tax returns. The number adds up to a huge 1,800 “lost” years for the nation. Therefore, the bank touts NetBank Vault as a safe repository of all receipts.
It’s not clear just why customers should choose NetBank Vault over others such as Dropbox or iCloud to manage all their documents. But it’s conceivable that some might want to keep their tax-related documents alongside their bank accounts, making NetBank Vault a good option. Regardless, interested people can check out and sign up for NetBank Vault via NetBank Labs here.