This is a good concept article. They discuss the idea of a completely paperless infrastructure. It includes the idea that your bank or other business would send you the information through e-mail or through a desktop application (like a document channel), instead of sending you links to pdf files.
In their eyes, the main requirement for this is encryption. Most people don’t know about (or use) encryption, so most businesses don’t support the infrastructure necessary to use it. If people used it and businesses supported it, then it would be possible to send the information (statements for example) directly to your e-mail or docu-channel.
Personally, I’ve dabbled in encryption—mainly using GPG. It’s an open-source version of the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) keys, and is free to use. There are even addons and programs to make it easier to manage your keys. Although some of the addons haven’t been maintained, they are still useful. And with more people interested in it, I would hope that there would be an interest in maintaining and updating the addons.
Another avenue for encryption would be Thawte Digital Security or VeriSign. Although these are meant more for signing then encryption, I would think that you could use them for both. If the technology doesn’t exist now, someone will create an encryption program that utilizes them. I’ve been waiting for VeriSign to provide me a link to any consumer (Home user) e-mail encryption that they may offer. When I receive the link, I’ll update this post.
This is not the same thing as the encryption that you read about (Bitlocker or TrueCrypt or FreeOTFE). This is the encryption of e-mail messages. You’ll recognize it by the hash (gibberish) at the bottom of the message, and an identifier at the top listing the encryption service that was used (PGP or GPG or another one). It may say “Begin SHA1—…” where the key is located.
If you’re interested in a tutorial on how to install and use GPG, I’d be more than happy to create one.
Have a great day:)