TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Scott Jagow: This might be the “duh” moment of the show: People are writing fewer checks. But you might not know how that’s affecting some people’s lives.
Today, the Federal Reserve said it’s gonna close almost all of its 22 check-processing centers. They’ll leave only four of them open.
Pat Barron is in charge of check-processing operations at the Fed. Pat, this shift away from paper seems obvious, but is there something the banks are doing to speed it up?
Pat Barron: More and more banks today are beginning to take paper checks in as deposited items and convert those to electronic items. That expedites the
perceptment of that and it mitigates some of the need for existing processing of the structure, be it at the Federal Reserve or in the private banking community more broadly.
Jagow: So are these check-processing centers going to be converted into something else?
Barron: The Federal Reserve, along with many of the private-sector processing centers, are making this transition from paper-based processing — which is very labor-intensive, very equipment-intensive — to electronics, which is far less equipment and labor-intensive. So, the Federal Reserve, like many other organizations, will continue to provide significant clearings as it relates to electronics and converted items. The Federal Reserve, and many other organizations, are investing extensively in new technologies that will provide those services.
Jagow: How many people are gonna lose their jobs over this?
Barron: We’re forecasting that over the next four years, we would probably downsize in the neighborhood of 1,700 jobs from where we are today. And, you know, as the transition begins to mature in years going forward, you know, there’s obviously the possibility that we would continue to downsize as our nation moves from paper to electronics.
Jagow: All right, Pat Barron, head of check-processing operations at the Federal Reserve. Thanks so much.
Barron: Sure thing.
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