I work in the cards and payments industry. My job is to develop and monitor programs and Jobs (Yeah,  Jobs! I work with those scary mainframes). After the transaction settlement of all the merchants my programs create their statements and funding notifications. Usually someone gets total credit greater than the debit and for others vice versa. For some both credits and debits balance out and they get naught! Not a single penny! Such cases sometimes throws spanner into the clockworks, and we have to fix it. (In mainframe parlance, those horrific things are called Job Abends)

Usually a job abend means billions of valued transactions held up until we fix it  and time is invariably against us at such times. Late to fix it by a moment and we can hear abuses from halfway across the world! So please, next time your bank transaction is held up, don’t slang us. Just remember, we are on fire even before you microwave us with your anger. Yesterday, we had such a job abend day.

It was a merchant who had nothing but two transactions, one for $ +1.07 and another for $ -1.07. So he didn’t get anything  funded into his account, but he has to pay the fees for the settlement processing.. Sorry, I wont bore you with that. What happened is that we luckily found this merchant’s records quickly in the files, removed him and let the jobs go. Everything went smooth from there on. Something hit me then. A thought.. It goes on as follows.

This guy sells some things to customers. For whatever he sells he pays 2% of that transaction to his card company.  A fraction of that is paid by the card company to my employer. With that money my employer gives me salary. With the salary I then go back to pay the merchant for stuff I buy. From that the merchant again pays 2% of the value and it goes on and on in a circle.. Now do one thing. Just put all the pieces of transactions together and settle it. Calculate, who stands to gain, huh?

The transaction settlement value is Zero! A big Zero! No one is getting anything extra! No one at all! It just sent my head spinning. What the hell are we working for and why ?!

Everyone is actually losing their precious seconds, minutes, hours and days just to keep this circle running, aren’t they?   Or is this what they call ‘the circle of life‘?

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