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Tech startup FutureVault secures the safety-deposit box of the future

Toronto-based FutureVault is an online safety-deposit box, a secure site where people can store everything from wills, tax returns and car loans to medical records.

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Technology revolutions are typically led by whiz kids in their 20s and 30s.

That approach is being turned on its head at FutureVault Inc., a three-year-old digital-finance company run by fiftysomething former bankers who are trying to change the way we store our most valuable personal information.

Toronto-based FutureVault is an online safety-deposit box, a secure site where people can store everything from wills, tax returns and car loans to medical records.

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Moving this paperwork online makes it accessible – or as the company says, it offers customers an opportunity to "optimize" their personal information.

FutureVault customers get a reminder when their car loan is paid or their prescriptions needs updating.

Customers with complicated lives can give their advisers – lawyers, stockbrokers, accountants and doctors – access to the data they need.

FutureVault was founded in 2014 with backing from venture-capital investor G. Scott Paterson, former head of tech-focused investment bank Yorkton Securities.

Mr. Paterson, who made a comeback to the financial industry after being sanctioned by the Ontario Securities Commission in 2001, recruited a string of proven information-technology executives from Canada's big banks, including FutureVault president Kevin Whyte, who previously held senior roles in the IT teams at Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and a major Ontario pension plan.

The first clients signed on to FutureVault in 2016; last month, as part of an expansion effort, the 30-employee company landed veteran banker and former lawyer John Orr as its chief executive officer.

Mr. Orr spent more than 20 years in the senior ranks at CIBC, including stints as the top executive at CIBC subsidiaries First Caribbean International Bank and Amicus bank. In addition to leading FutureVault, Mr. Orr made a significant personal investment in the privately held company.

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Mr. Orr said he looked at a number of opportunities after leaving CIBC and took the job at FutureVault in the belief that "information is the next and ultimate asset class."

The new CEO said: "Our role is to provide the tools and intelligence to allow individuals and businesses to optimize the value of their information."

In practical terms, FutureVault's model is to sell to businesses, not individual consumers.

The initial target audience is high-net-worth individuals and family offices, but could also include law firms, banks, insurance companies, doctors and other companies that handle sensitive personal information. FutureVault charges these firms a fee that they can either pass on to clients or absorb as part of their service.

The secure software can also be used to help facilitate transactions – for instance, if a client has a mortgage coming due and wants to ask different banks to bid on a new mortgage, FutureVault can help run that process and present options to the borrower.

There are rival companies in this sector, including file-sharing services such as Redwood, Calif.-based Box Inc.

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Mr. Orr said that what differentiates FutureVault is its focus on helping clients think of their personal information as an asset, and get the best possible value from their data.

Mr. Orr said: "FutureVault is much more than simply a digital storage company. Its robust, highly secure technology and uniquely experienced team provide the ideal platform to pursue this mandate."

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About the Author
Business Columnist

Andrew Willis is a business columnist for the Report on Business at The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto.He has been in business communications and journalism for three decades. More

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