Technology threatens banking jobs in Botswana

Pascal Raditsebe

GABORONE, BOTSWANA – Banking jobs in Botswana, like in any other developing countries are under threat, as financial institutions embark in employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to meet growing regulatory demands, it has come to light recently.

The undertaking, according to Bank of Botswana Banking Supervisory report, if implemented will swallow up more jobs for several months to come as new technology and innovation reach the local shores.

As at the end of last year two largest banks, close to hundred bank employees were sent home in what the central bank, Bank of Botswana (BoB) describes as branch rationalisation and automation process.

“One of the leading local banks, which has international links Barclays Bank Botswana parted ways with at least 39 employees whilst its counterpart Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana (Stanchart) sent 53 employees home.

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 laid off 12 of its employees during 2016”, disclosed the annual BoB Banking Supervisory report.

Employment levels in the local banking sector, according to the report shows that ever the retrenchments, there have since increased slightly by 0.5 percent from 5030 in 2015 to 5055 in 2016.

 The levels have been attributed to branch expansion by some of the local commercial banks happened to have been classified as “small” entities.

Besides, the report shows five banks recorded declines in their employment levels during last year due to branch rationalisation and automation.

The report further discloses that some local banks, as part of their AI strategy, 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 as part of endeavour to enhance their existing service delivery channels.

There are at least 12 different brands of commercial banks in Botswana, both local, South African, European and Asian.

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