What's In The Bag?

By Mike Morper posted 11-30-2010 10:58



"What’s in the bag?" I wondered. 
While ambling down the street on a recent Friday night, I walked past the local branch of a fairly well-known bank. This particular branch has one of those double door entries. Good for keeping the cold wind out and also, I suppose better for security.
Well, the bank was closed, but lying on the floor, in the small lobby between the two sets of locked doors, was a good-sized canvas pouch. Had it been full of $100 bills, I’d have to guess it might hold about $75,000—more or less. But, I have to think it didn’t contain cash and most likely didn’t contain anything negotiable. I was only a little tempted to try to find out.
It did get me wondering. What was in the bag? I figure it was a courier bag, which was left between doors so an arriving messenger could get to it with only one set of keys, and without setting off an internal alarm.
But come to think of it, that bag might as well have contained cash, and this bank must be a little too eager to part with it.  And they’re not alone. There are countless banks, insurance companies, and retail giants out there that continue to spend bags of cash on courier services when there are faster, safer, and much less costly ways of moving information.
Now I may be jumping to conclusions. As stated, I didn’t ever see the contents of this mystery pouch. And while some similar mail bags and boxes contain the familiar marking "company documents only -- no money or other valuables inside," this one did not. It is remotely possible that the bag held coin wrappers, complementary pens, new-account toasters or some other physical collection of bank-branch necessities. But I’m putting my money on documents. Why in the world would these still be moving by courier?
Why is it that local offices of some of the country’s best-known retailers continue to put their locally received invoices into a FedEx box each night destined for the home office? Why do insurance agents, financial advisors and medical offices hang signs reading "UPS Pick Up" in their windows most afternoons, when they have little more than paper to send to their affiliates? Why do banks choose to put loan documents, tally sheets and nightly reconciliation records in between their two sets of front doors? 
Nothing against the messenger couriers of the world, but haven’t these modern businesses already invested in technology to move information? Couldn’t a simple multi-function device scan those documents, and securely route them to the intended recipients? Security, traceability, and immediacy would be assured. Best of all, the precious data therein could already be populating data bases, initiating work processes, or generating revenue.
To all those executives out there: the next time you’re in one of those many meetings convened to discuss cost cutting or ways to find money, take a look between your own two front doors. Multiply the cost of couriers -- times the number of branches, and times the number of days each week they’re used. There may actually be fat bags of cash lying on the floor.

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