I Lost My Job To a Smart Phone App

By Mac M. Martirossian, CPA

In May 2006, a Wall Street Journal article declared that large Automated Teller Machine (“ATM”) manufacturers were trying to sell a new generation of machines that would enable customers to deposit cash or checks without an envelope.  Now, that may not be a big deal for some, but for many smaller businesses, which have a respectable quantity of checks and cash have to painstakingly prepare deposit slips, stamp the back of checks and stand in line, to make a deposit with a live teller, it was big news.  I was elated when I read this article, while at the same time thinking “not in my lifetime”.

When Wachovia Bank rolled out the Wincor Nixdorf ATMs at my branch, I was celebrating by dancing (literally) when I made my first paperless deposit.  It was night time and I was holding my receipt with a clear image of each check deposited and I thought to myself—Thank You IT engineers, for enabling me the freedom to deposit money without all the fuss of having to do it during normal banking hours, waiting in line  and as an added bonus, a detailed photo of my deposit evidencing my transaction.

Then a couple of months ago, I saw the Chase television commercial that has a customer using a Smart Phone App to take a picture of a check and making a deposit!  A mini ATM in your pocket.  According to CNBC, scanners have already been sold by banks to business customers who then deposit a large amount of checks deposited without entering a bank branch.

Here is a secret.  The banks are planning to fund these new devices with the reduction in teller headcount, a trend which is likely to continue.  So what does this mean to you?

  1. Stay alert and current.  Be vigilant with the technological changes that are taking place in your sandbox and ensure you understand the ramifications to your current post and your future.  Most who read the WSJ article in 2006 thought it would be a decade before the technology came to life, when in fact it was in operation in less than 3 years.  And sadly, most took no proactive steps as a result.
  2. Be a part of the innovative solution.  Find ways to integrate or develop technology solutions to improve efficiency with your work.  With the advent of the work force reductions, it is doubtful that companies will fill those positions in the future.  In fact, they may find more ways to reduce head count.  Be a visionary in introducing technological or process improvement solutions to aid your employer in reducing payroll.
  3. Mitigate vulnerability with tangent occupations.  Advances described in this article also impact companies that print deposit slips, entities that supply envelopes and to some extent, the US Postal Service.  Beware of the indirect impact of technological innovation on you or your company.

We embrace innovation when it benefits us and we see it delivered successfully.  Just need to make sure we are smart enough not to be put out of our job by a Smart Phone.

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