We did a piece the other day about how learning the ancient programming language COBOL could make you bank. It was meant as a fun little article about the weird fact that large parts of our banking system is written in a programming language from 1959.It sounded pretty funny, but we soon started thinking “How can this actually make sense?” In our ultra-tech driven present, how can it be that our financial systems are still written in COBOL? Which can only maintained by small group of veterans, that grows thinner every day.
We reached out to Daniel Döderlein, CEO of Auka, who has experience with working with banks on technological solutions such as mobile payments. According to him, COBOL-based systems still function properly but they’re faced with a more human problem.
This extremely critical part of the economic infrastructure of the planet is run on a very old piece of technology — which in itself is fine — if it weren’t for the fact that the people servicing that technology are a dying race.
And Döderlein literally means dying. Despite the fact that three trillion dollars run through COBOL systems every single day they are mostly maintained by retired programming veterans. There are almost no new COBOL programmers available so as retirees start passing away, then so does the maintenance for software written in the ancient programming language.