Prepare For Severe Weather: Flashlight? Check. Extra Batteries? Check. Online Storage? Huh?

Grass is growing, trees are greening, days are longer – it must be the start of … severe weather. The arrival of spring means increased likelihood of thunderstorms, flash floods, hailstones and tornadoes. And hurricane season is less than a month away, with predictions for 2013 to be an active one. As your members start preparing for these weather possibilities, your credit union has a huge opportunity to help them in an area often overlooked: protecting their valued documents through online storage.

When severe weather conditions strike, a member’s lifetime of vital records and family photos can be lost in an instant. Working to secure copies of pictures and documents such as wills, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, deeds, titles – assuming they can be reproduced – is a difficult and frustrating task. Ask anyone who has suffered significant property loss due to fire, flood or other catastrophe and they will tell you that they wish they had done a better job of securing their valuable papers and personal items.

No matter where your credit union is located, your members are at risk for some types of severe weather. Last year, more than 1,000 tornadoes destroyed countless homes and businesses in all but four states. The National Interagency Fire Center recorded nearly 75,000 wildfires in 2011, which burned 8.7 million acres and caused billions in property loss. And according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, 39 percent of all Americans live in coastal areas susceptible to hurricanes. It seems no one is immune to experiencing potential weather disasters.

As more consumers are compiling large volumes of digital data and seeking greater security measures to protect these files and their other important papers, more providers are responding with virtual synching products such as Drop Box, iCloud and Google Drive. But there’s a significant difference between the “free and massive” storage given away by these providers and the type of secure storage services credit unions can offer their members. The opportunity for credit unions isn’t in providing large amounts of storage to members for little or no cost; it’s in providing members the realistic amount of storage they need through the highly secure and protected online document library of their trusted financial institution. Doing so, credit unions can help members avoid the risks associated with housing private and personal documents in the public domain of “the cloud.” But more importantly, while taking advantage of the same storage technology used by other providers, credit unions’ storage products serve to promote their own institutions and business objectives, namely leveraging their online delivery channels with members. That’s a big benefit other storage providers can’t offer – and one of the reasons some credit unions are stepping up to provide members online safe deposit boxes.

Case in point: Huntsville, Alabama-based Redstone Federal Credit Union launched its online storage program My Virtual StrongBox in January to its online banking customers last winter. The credit union knew from member surveys that there was an interest in the service; and in just three months, nearly 30,000 members had enrolled for it. Now, Redstone FCU is addressing the challenge of getting more members to take the next step and store their online files. Among the 531 members that have stored their documents, the program’s proven successful: the average amount of stored data per box is 5.33 MB (with the largest amount stored in a single box being 316 MB). The credit union also has capitalized on many opportunities inherent in the program: winning market recognition, putting a wanted service in the hands of their online banking members, and building top-of-mind awareness among members each time they move or retrieve files to storage. But the greatest opportunity has come from members recognizing the real value of having a storage service that is heavy on features and security, as well as being integrated into the delivery channels and business conducted with their credit union.  To help promote the new service, the Redstone RCU created a commercial, which it features on its online banking web page.

With the start of severe weather season, it’s a good time to consider adding an online storage service to your credit union’s line of products and services. As outlined in the Redstone FCU case study above, the benefits to your members are many. Plus, the cost to your credit union is minimal – less than $1 per year, per member.

Some features you’ll want included with any online storage program you provide:

  • Multi-factor security, with encrypted uploads and redundant servers
  • Self-storage and self-customization user features
  • Increased storage limits, as needed
  • Integration with existing technologies
  • Mobile capabilities

As our world becomes more technology-dependent, the need for safe, secure document storage becomes more important. It takes just one disaster for your members to realize how critical safekeeping their personal papers and records can be – and too often, that’s one disaster too late.

The opportunity to provide online storage is here – it’s up to credit unions to take advantage of it.

Ron Daly

Ron Daly

Ron Daly is the president and CEO of Virtual StrongBox, a secure, end-to-end member engagement platform that can be integrated into various workflow processes to provide high-risk Enterprise IT firms ... Web: Details