NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The future of tellers in commercial banks in
Kenya looks dimmer as the financial institutions embrace
technology and agency banking.
The banks are
replacing the tellers, whose work is to handle customer
transactions, with agents and mobile apps, with new data
indicating Monday that it may be just a matter of time before
the employees’ work becomes extinct.
according to new data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), were
the most affected by job cuts in 2016, with banks laying them
off as compared to any other category of employees.
In 2016, the apex
bank’s supervision report for the year indicated that the
sector’s staff levels decreased by 7 percent from 36,212 in
December 2015 to 33,695.
While the number of
management and support staff increased, that of clerical and
secretarial workers (where the tellers lie) declined by 12
percent while supervisors by 9 percent, leading to the overall
decrease in the staff levels.
“This is an
indicator of the banks’ improved efficiency as a result of
automated processes hence reducing the number of required
supervisory and clerical and secretarial staff,” said the CBK.
Some 41 million
citizens in the East African nation currently have bank
accounts, up from 35 million in 2016.
In 2015, one
employee served 972 customers whereas in 2016, each employee was
serving 1,209 customers.
The rise in the
number of customers should mean more job opportunities for
citizens as tellers but, according to the Central Bank, banks
have moved to technology and agency banking to enhance
efficiency in customer service.
and micro-finance banks in 2016 continued to leverage on robust
information and communication technology platforms to provide
robust banking services,” said the regulator.
As the number of
tellers drop amid rise in demand for banking services as seen in
surge in number of customers, a look at 2016 agency banking
figures shows why the future of many bank employees seem is
As at December 2016,
18 commercial banks and five microfinance banks (MFB) had
contracted 53,833 and 2,068 agents respectively spread across
In December 2015,
the number of agents contracted by commercial banks and MFBs
were 40,592 and 1,154 respectively.
“The change implies
a 33 percent increase by 13,241 agents and 79 percent increase
by 914 agents growth of number of agents contracted by
commercial banks and microfinance banks respectively,” said the
The big banks, which
are sacking more staff, have over 87 percent of the approved
commercial bank agents. They include Equity Bank Ltd. with
25,428 agents, Kenya Commercial Bank 12,883 and Cooperative Bank
increase in the number of agents is attributed to the growing
confidence and acceptability of the agency banking model by the
public and banks as an alternative channel of doing banking
business,” said the apex bank.
The value and number
of transactions carried out on the agency banking platform paint
to this fact.
The number of
transactions undertaken through bank agents increased in 2016 by
31 percent from 90 million in 2015 to 106 million. And so was
the value, which nearly doubled compounding the problem further
for bank tellers.
“The value of
banking transactions undertaken through agents increased from
4.3 billion dollars to 7.1 billion dollars, with the increase
attributed to the growth of transactions relating to payment of
retirement and social benefits, transfer of funds, cash deposits
and cash withdrawals,” said CBK.
A good number of
bank employees are aware of the trends in the banking sector and
some are even changing careers.
“I joined the bank
as a teller five years ago but realized I may not last long in
that job as soon as they launched agency banking. I decided to
further my knowledge in capital markets and right now I work in
the bank’s securities department,” said Maryanne Wanyama, a
banker, on Monday.
Her bank is among
those that are aggressively doing away with tellers, having
placed agents inside all their branches.
taking away jobs not only in the banking sector but also others.
For banks, however, the urgency to adopt to new processes had
been necessitated by the introduction of interest caps which ate
into profits,” said Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in
He, however, noted
that as banks shed off teller jobs, they are creating more jobs
in the informal sector through agency banking.
“In fact it is a
win-win situation if you look at the number of agents vis-à-vis
the number of bank employees. It is like banks are taking from
the left hand and giving it to the right,” he said.