Would you use a cyborg accountant?

As technology becomes more and more sophisticated, smart tracking software has been widely welcomed into accounting. Delivering more accuracy when logging employees hours and payroll expenses, it seems like a no brainer, but what about taking it up a level?

In the search for peak efficiency, some organisations are going further than others with the introduction of personal identification microchip technology. It’s a trend that’s growing amongst the industry, with UK firm BioTeq having already implanted 150 microchips into staff at several large financial and engineering firms, though we’re yet to learn exactly which firms have implemented this step. Biohax, a Swedish microchip developer, has revealed that it too has met with legal and financial firms in the UK to “boost security and stop employees accessing sensitive areas” by implanting its own version of the chip.

At this point, all devices have been implanted in fully consenting staff. Without strict adherence to both human rights and data protection laws, and without the employees volunteering with full consent, the practice would not be legal. It’s unlikely that this will become common practice any time soon, and is certainly very unlikely to become mandatory. Of the Big Four accounting firms, although Deloitte has not offered comment, EY and PwC said they had no plans to take it up, with KPMG making it very clear that it “would under no circumstances consider doing so.”

But if an accountant were to be microchipped, what would the benefit be? According to Alex Viall, head of regulatory intelligence at Behavox, a people analytics firm, there would be plenty. For the bookkeeping profession in particular, he points towards convenience, improved security and easier tracking for payments. By removing the need for employees to carry access cards, keys or identification it will save firms both time and money. Allowing a single login through the microchip would also replace two-factor identification systems and provide much stronger security in the logging of expense and payroll.

In Viall’s eyes, this is as much a no-brainer as smart tracking software; “If chipping is going to save people time, give them better information about their current state of work-related health, and help to secure a larger bonus for the employees based on cybersecurity, why would you not be willing to do this?” He does however, recognise the importance of a high level of trust between employee and employer for this to really work, saying, “transparency of process is always going to be key to make these approaches viable.”

It’s likely that there will be an ongoing legal and ethical discussion surrounding the implementation of these technologies in the coming years. We’re a long way from RoboCop, but it’s without doubt an interesting view into the potential future of finances and the world at large.