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Software is eating South African banking jobs

It is really mind boggling that South Africa's major banks are pretending as if they only discovered
September 24 · Issue #71 · View online
iAfrikan Daily Brief
It is really mind boggling that South Africa’s major banks are pretending as if they only discovered last month that digitization and automation of of their operations will have an impact on jobs. - Tefo Mohapi

So, on 27 September 2019 thousands of employees of South Africa’s major banks will be taking to the streets across the Southern African country to protest against the recently announced job cuts. Some of the country’s major banks have recently announced that they are in the process of retrenching thousands of employees.
According to some of the banks, the job cuts are as a result of 4IR (the 4th Industrial Revolution).
Earlier in 2019, Standard Bank South Africa was among the first of South Africa's major banks who announced they will be closing 104 of their walk-in branches around the country as more and more of their customers are using digital banking channels.
Apart from the obvious confusion among some sectors of media in South Africa and bank management regarding the 3rd Industrial Revolution (e.g. digitization, computing, automation, robotics, etc.) and the 4th Industrial Revolution (eg. Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Machine Learning, Blockchain Technology, etc.), what struck me about the planned protest and the banks’ statements is that both parties want us to believe that it only occurred to them recently that digitization and automation will lead to job losses.
Think about it for a moment especially from a bank management and executives point of view. For several years, if not decades, you have been studying and observing trends regarding making your banking operations more efficient by using technology. You have already seen how implementing technology such as Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) meant less and less of your clients use your branches over the years leading to your requiring less staff inside a branch. You, as a bank executive, have also observed how such simple technology as an ATM has also improved the efficiency of your operations.
The different industrial revolutions. Source: InnovX Minds' Blog
Not only that, you have also observed in more developed countries how their shift to automated and digitized banking operations has led to their customers utilizing physical branches far less and even not using the telephone support line (with human support) much as they have moved to digital banking channels.
Now, in 2019, you hold a press conference as a bank and tell people that the closure of your branches and need to lay-off thousands of employees is as a result of the sudden impact of “4IR?” No, I don’t buy that. As a bank they’ve seen this coming for many years if not decades. It was inevitable that it was going to be necessary that they digitize and automate their operations in order to stay competitive and efficient.
Yes, software is eating South African banking jobs but all these employee protests could have been prevented if the banks started preparing their employees many years ago before it was necessary for them to retrench them. 4IR, because it is the trending buzzword, is an easy scapegoat.
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