Thousands of jobs will be put at risk as the world’s biggest banks harness artificial intelligence (AI) systems to the wave of roles created in recent years to meet ever-growing regulatory demands, industry experts have warned.
In Botswana, both big and small banks are expected to shed more jobs in several months to come as new technology and innovation reaches the local shores.
By end of 2016, atleast two of the country’s biggest banks sent close to hundred of bankers home in what the central bank, Bank of Botswana (BoB) described as branch rationalisation and automation process.
Through its annual Banking Supervisory report, BoB has indicated that one of the leading local banks, which has international links Barclays Bank Botswana parted ways with atleast 39 employees whilst its counterpart Stanchart which had employed 815 people at the beginning of 2015 closed the year 2016 with a headcount of 762 losing atleast 53 employees.
The report also shows that two other banks, which are government owned, National Development Bank and Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) also cut jobs during the same period. The two statutory banks, NDB and BSB hammered a collective of 12 of its employees during 2016.
In overall, employment levels in the domestic banking sector however is said to have slightly increased by 0.5 percent from 5030 in 2015 to 5055 in 2016. The increase in employment levels has been attributed to branch expansion by some of the local commercial bank precisely those classified as “small”.
“Five banks recorded declines in their employment levels during the year under review due to branch rationalisation and automation”, reads part of the BoB report.
As part of their AI strategy, and to further enhance the existing service delivery channels, some local banks are said to have upgraded the intelligent Auto Teller Machines (ATMs), among others, improving functionality with respect to cash and cheque deposits, withdrawal of foreign currency, bill payments, and cardless services.
Meanwhile as part of the reform and modernisation of the Botswana National Payments System (BNPS), the central Bank says it has committed to implementing a strategic framework and legal environment to ensure provision of safe and secure electronic payment services.
“The legal basis for this framework is derived from Section 4 (1) (a) of the Bank of Botswana Act (CAP. 55:01), which requires the Bank, first and foremost, to promote and maintain monetary stability, an efficient payments mechanism and the liquidity, solvency and proper functioning of a soundly based monetary, credit and financial system in Botswana.”, reads part of the BoB supervisory report.
According to Bank of Botswana, the new development is expected to support the use of a wide variety of technology based payment services/systems and ensure that the rights and obligations of stakeholders are recognised, protected and enforceable.