Mobile Banking, Other Fintech Means Job Gains and Losses

July 10, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

When banks started to look more seriously at mobile operations, more than a few people, myself included, immediately started fearing for the state of jobs at the neighborhood bank. After all, when people could fulfill a teller’s functions from a mobile app, what point was there in having tellers on hand? After the last several months, a two-sided trend has developed, and some banks are going on hiring sprees…while others are doing the opposite.

As expected, the teller jobs are going unfilled in many cases. Yet there are cases where banks are going on hiring binges, looking for people with sufficient technical expertise to operate and maintain all this new tech. Sweden’s SEB AB—one of its largest banks—recently put out plans to hire up to 1,500 annually to keep its tech stocked. It’s mainly targeting “customer technology design,” as it puts it.

Nordea Bank, meanwhile, is going on a firing binge. Six thousand jobs are slated to be lost, and that comes with an increase in technical development. Word out of Nordea is that financial services are starting to demand fewer people, and they’re moving accordingly.

Tech investing is occurring all over the world. Banco Santander is looking to bring in iGTB’s Intellect Payments Services Hub, and YES BANK in India is looking at a slate of new financial services geared toward startup businesses.

The big issue here, however, is in terms of net figures. We all knew that when mobile banking got going in earnest it was going to cost some jobs. Yet we also knew that there would be new jobs established to create and maintain these systems. The issue, in the end, was how many new jobs would be made to replace the ones lost; if there were too few new jobs, we not only had the problem of how to get the former tellers retrained but also the issue of how they would continue to contribute to the economy until they got new work.

Fintech means winners and losers, of course, but keeping the numbers reasonably balanced is a necessity to a well-running economy. Right now, the numbers are starting to skew to the wrong side, so hopefully a better balance can be achieved before worse problems start to take hold.