Sberbank claims robots now account for 50% of all decisions

Maria Nikolova

Robots keep taking over various positions at Russia’s Sberbank, with the bank saying that 50% of the decisions that were traditionally made by human employees is now made by robots.

Financial institutions have been increasingly announcing the implementation of robotic solutions in various roles. A number of banks and online trading companies have recently deployed chat bots in their customer service departments, whereas artificial intelligence systems are gradually advancing in areas like stock trading.

Although it is obvious that there is a machine push in the financial services sector, it is not quite obvious how big this push is. Providing some quantification of this phenomenon, Sberbank Rossii PAO (MCX:SBERP) estimates that half of the decisions traditionally made by human staff are now being made by robots. Dmitry Sukhoverkhov, head of Sberbank’s Dalnevostochny Bank, told RIA Novosti that this has been a trend for the past five years. Although a 50% rate of decision making made by machines may seem quite significant, Mr Sukhoverkhov notes that this is just the beginning of innovation. He refers to analysts’ forecasts saying that robots will make 80% of current jobs obsolete.

It is barely surprising that Sberbank makes such statements, as the bank has been one of the early adopters of robots and AI solutions. In January this year, the bank said a robot lawyer would replace 3,000 human employees at its legal department.

In May, the bank showed a “Kuka Hand” – a robotic hand used to sort and count money. One such robot, according to Stanislav Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank, may replace six human beings, that is, 12 hands. The solution will be gradually rolled out across Sberbank’s regional offices in 2017.

There is more sad news for the human staff at the bank, as Herman Gref – CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank, has presented further plans for workforce reduction. The number of employees in back office roles at the bank is set to be cut 12 times by 2021. At present, the bank has 12,000 back office employees, with the number to be reduced to 5,000 by 2018 and to 1,000 by 2021. Back in 2011, the number was 59,000, Mr Gref said.

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