Pepper the humanoid robot greets customers. Photo courtesy of SoftBank Robotics

Nedbank Expects Software Robots to Create Efficiencies

Software robots are expected to take 3,000 jobs at Nedbank, one of the largest banks in South Africa. Employees will be replaced through attrition and offset by growth in locations.

Fred Swanepoel, Nedbank Chief Information Officer, said 59 software robots have already been installed and another 200 will be in place by the end of the year. The bank has about 32,000 staff and loses approximately 3,000 employees a year. That number will be replaced within three years. The bank will also employ a humanoid robot dubbed Pepper at its Sandton digital branch to help customers and promote robotic assistance.

The robot models, made by SoftBank Robotics, are priced anywhere from $25,000 to hundreds of thousands with ongoing company support.

“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,” Swanepoel said. “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.”

The company is spending $169.2 million or 2 billion rand on technology investments. The bank uses a chatbot for its wealth management division that customers can navigate through an app, the web, voice or text. A robo adviser in the asset management division also assists. Other robots help to avoid duplicate payments.

The robot Pepper that Nedbank is bringing on as a public relations move has been used in other countries for communicating with customers, answering questions and as a sales representative. About 500 companies have purchased the model. It has also been used as a waiter.