South Africa’s banking group Nedbank made headlines last week following its announcement that it was piloting South Africa’s first humanoid robot, Pepper, and that software robots could possibly replace 3 000 employees, according a City Press report.
From possible job losses to Pepper’s cost – This is what we know about Nedbank’s technology investments:
1. Nedbank chief information officer Fred Swanepoel, told City Press that job losses would be through natural attrition and would be offset through the bank’s expected growth rather than through retrenchments.
“When we look at the expected implementations and the natural attrition we are going to suffer, we think that there is more than adequate room for us not to have any mass retrenchments on account of robotics. We are looking to have some of that displacement offset in the growth we will receive,” Swanepoel said.
“With about 32 000 staff, our natural attrition rate is about 3 000 per year. When we look at a three-year period, we don’t think that robotics will take up more than one year of that natural attrition.”
2. Pepper, which was showcased at the bank’s digital-only branch at the Gautrain Station in Sandton on Friday, according to IOL was created by SoftBank, “the robot can be programmed to recognise principal human emotions, voice, chat with customers and answer questions”.
Fabio Minone, Nedbank’s integrated channel officer, said that this humanoid robot cost between R400 000 and R500 000.
3. Nedbank has installed 59 software robots and plans to have 200 in place by the end of the year, according to the City Press report.
“We have a chat bot in Nedbank Wealth. It navigates through an app or the web via voice or text. We also have a robo adviser in the asset management division. We have robots that help us avoid duplicate payments from a procurement perspective,” Swanepoel told the newspaper.
4. Nedbank has in the last four years invested R2 billion yearly in digital and digitisation projects, according to ITWeb.
5. Robots will largely be used to improve efficiencies, Swanepoel said, “There are a lot of admin-heavy processes. What can take a person a long time – a robot can do a lot faster and lot more efficiently. In addition, robots don’t get sick, don’t have holidays and work 24 hours a day. You get a vast improvement to your efficiency.”
6. According to Business Report, Nedbank has said Pepper would tour various Nedbank branches throughout the country from next month.