My transaction was rejected — and it was a deposit!
As much as has been written about the death of cash, there seems to be little evidence of any major change in the status quo.
Last month business took my wife, Margo, and me to the city of Albuquerque, where we met with former colleagues to chat about our former times together — yes, the good old days — and argue over where the industry is headed.
More importantly, perhaps, the time spent in Albuquerque meant we were able to watch the hot air balloon fiesta. Reports of the day suggest that upwards of 600 hot air balloons participated and the mass ascension was a sight to behold. Definitely, one more item checked off the bucket list.
This being autumn and fall colors, we elected to drive our company "command center" and set up shop on the grounds next to the field that was home to the balloons. As this was a case of "dry camping" without any hookups, you could schedule delivery of fresh water to fill your tanks and have another truck come and empty all your gray and black tanks. For cash.
We ran into a similar situation last year at Sonoma watching the Indy cars lap the track at Sears Point. Hand over cash and you could arrange for just about anything you wanted.
In temporary event settings, cash remains king, and it was easy to spot the ATMs — just look for the lines forming in front of them. It all comes back to the simple things like tips, hotdogs and programs — all so much easier with cash.
Checking the mail on our return home to Colorado, we found a check from a new client, a vendor I had met at this year's ATMIA event in Orlando.
Being a new client, they preferred to pay me with a check rather than a wire transfer. I made a trip to the ATM just beyond the doors of my local Chase branch, pulled the ATM card from my wallet and initiated the deposit transaction.
"Check rejected for technical reasons," the screen said. What? I had endorsed it correctly and it all looked good, but rejected? Not even accepted and flagged as "pending!"
As the teller inside the branch office completed the deposit transaction for me, she said yes, "it must have been a technical glitch." And it made me wonder when we will see banks respond to our attempts to deposit cash with "Rejected for technical reasons."
Discussions about cryptocurrencies ratcheted up considerably recently when Chase CEO Jamie Dimon argued that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are a "fraud" that eventually will blow up, adding that he'd "fire in a second" any JPMorgan trader who was trading bitcoin, giving two reasons: "It's against our rules, and they are stupid."
Perhaps I could see bitcoin deposits rejected for "technical reasons," but checks? Perhaps Chase is getting ahead of the curve and the technical glitch was nothing more than a dry run of a new type of ATM transaction looking for bitcoin.
Perhaps too, Chase feels challenged by what could so easily overwhelm it: What if I were able to wirelessly connect my smartphone to the ATM, experience the same UI as I have on my phone, and want to deposit my bitcoin into my bank account, converted to the currency du jour? Coming soon to a bank near you, I suspect.
Rejection is never easy to take, technical or not. Cash remains king, but for how long? If a situation should develop in which we see cryptocurrencies evolve to the point where many abound and we all have options, perhaps it will be only cash that we can rely on to switch from one to the other.
And when that time comes, as I have no doubt it will, perhaps it will not be checks replacing cash, but rather, cryptocurrencies replacing checks.
Suddenly, the world will look entirely different as you rush from your airline gate looking for an ATM that will allow you to load your smartphone with a cryptocurrency supported where you stand.
How will we then react if our transaction is abruptly terminated with that much-dreaded message, "Rejected for technical reasons!" Arrgghhh! But, thankfully, we stashed away a few dollars before we left home, just in case; after all, there are bell hops to tip, hotdogs to buy and a newspaper needed for the train ride into town.
Richard Buckle Richard Buckle is the founder and CEO of Pyalla Technologies LLC. He has enjoyed a long association with the IT industry as a user, vendor, and more recently, as an industry commentator. www