FREMONT, CA: The advancement in Big Data has made it nearly impossible for users to review their digital lives easily. In the future, however, users will gain ever more control over their data. With the launch of FileThis, which allows you to gather, encrypt and store all of your electronic bills and documents from different companies in one location, a number of new services have come forth allowing users to take back their information from companies.
“A lot of those documents that you own—and we do believe that you own them, it’s your data—a lot of those documents are not in your control today. Your documents reside on all those different sites over there that are owned by all those different companies you do business with and not by you.” says Brian Berson, company CEO and co-founder of FileThis.
A number of services also try simplifying bill payment by allowing users to download statements from banks, insurance companies, credit cards, cell phone provider and merchants into one digital vault. Manilla and Doxo have been very prominent in this field with participation of million active users; they can access Manilla and Doxo free of charge. However Manilla and Doxo make money from companies when they convert clients from paper billing to electronic.
Marc Karasu, Manilla’s vice president of marketing, says “companies such as AT&T and Citi pay them roughly 25 to 35 cents per converted user per bill because otherwise they will have to spend a dollar printing out and sending each bill through the mail and Manilla has revenues in the single digit millions. However There is that challenge of educating the companies.” he adds on.
FileThis operates on a freemium model which means additional connections and more frequent checks cost between $50 and $125 a year. Since FileThis doesn’t earn revenue from companies, it pulls data with the users consent making companies and banks unhappy, as they can generate business and advertising revenue by boosting traffic to their home pages.
“Web scraping is not the best long-term technology in general – it’s fairly time intensive for us, the developer – and we are working towards better alternatives in the future, but it is the only technology available today for widespread support of all brands and therefore leads to the best customer experience today,” says Berson, a developer and a resident of Mill Valley, California.
FileThis is user friendly and allows users to store documents on their cloud and also other encrypted vaults. It also allows users to upload files such as wills, and house documents. FileThis has also managed to raise about two million dollars in venture funding.
The documents are scanned with Optical Character Recognition technology and coded to simplify searches for information. However one might still find it difficult to access bills from all major companies. They pull data from 320 different companies at present and hope to have 1,000 by the end of the year.
But what is delightful about services such as FileThis is, they offer the opportunity to recapture some of the documents that seem to be out of our control today. Let’s be hopeful that such services with their capabilities reach out to millions.