Shanghai Bank Staffed by ‘Little Girl’ Robots
China’s second-largest lender has opened a branch staffed by two robots and no humans after cutting nearly 10,000 workers last year.
China Construction Bank (CCB) claims its new branch on Shanghai’s Jiujiang Road is the country’s first fully automated bank. A robot at the doors greets customers, speaking through a female face encased in a shiny plastic helmet. It clutches a touchscreen tablet to its chest for customers to use. Slots for bank cards are sunk into its waist.
To enter the bank, customers simply slide their ID card, and their face, through scanners. Inside, another robot in the hall answers simple queries. A virtual-reality room showcases the building of a house, promoting CCB’s latest move into the rental housing market. Beyond automatic telling, there are machines for exchanging foreign currency, issuing new bank cards and paying off credit card debt.
Those in need of wealth management services can still enjoy interactions with other humans, if only by video link to bank staff in another location.
Two volunteers from CCB are helping out at the branch for the first few days. But when the number of customers and gawkers declines, they will leave the robots on their own. However, the robots may struggle to fully satisfy curious customers, with one complaining that it is “just a little girl.”
A visitor experiences a home interior simulation through a virtual reality headset at China Construction Bank’s unmanned branch in Shanghai on Wednesday. The bank recently launched a long-term home leasing business for retail customers. Photo: Leng Cheng/Caixin
Indeed, one local couple in their 60s refused to go in, telling Caixin that the new bank was for young people.
But young people are more likely to be accessing financial services on their phones than entering a bank branch. CCB reported a 157% jump in personal consumer loans last year — and the growth was accounted for entirely by its online platform, CCB Kuaidai.
The bank has cut nearly 20,000 employees since the end of 2014, and layoffs seem to be accelerating. It lost 9,861 employees last year, according to its annual report, equivalent to 2.72% of its total workforce.
Automation is taking off across financial services. Major securities brokerages in China, including GF, Ping An and Everbright, have launched investment advisory services powered by artificial intelligence.
There’s a similar trend across the Pacific. Last year, Bank of America opened several unmanned branches, according to a report by Reuters.
At the end of the day, the finance industry is a service industry, a health insurance manager visiting the bank told Caixin — so it should try to provide customers with better experiences.
Looking at the new branch, she said she felt a mixture of pleasure and concern. In the future, junior salespeople will gradually be replaced by machines, she said. Only tailor-made professional services will need humans to be involved at all.
Contact reporters Ke Baili (email@example.com) and Leng Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Oct 24 03:05 AM
Oct 23 06:43 PM
Oct 23 05:51 PM
Oct 23 05:40 PM
Oct 23 05:19 PM
Oct 23 12:53 PM
Oct 23 11:20 AM
Oct 22 06:38 PM
Oct 22 06:26 PM
Oct 22 06:14 PM
Oct 22 06:07 PM
Oct 22 04:52 PM
Oct 22 01:34 PM
Oct 22 12:28 PM
Oct 22 12:22 PM
- 1Cover Story: Death Follows as People Push Into Elephant Enclave
- 2Yi Gang Predicts China’s GDP Will Grow 2% in 2020
- 3In Depth: Who’s Getting Vaccinated? High-Risk Groups, Students Going Abroad Join China's Growing Trials
- 4China Encourages More Domestic Investment Abroad
- 5Gallery: Beijing’s Old Summer Palace — 160 Years After Its Ruin
- 1Power To The People: Pintec Serves A Booming Consumer Class
- 2Largest hotel group in Europe accepts UnionPay
- 3UnionPay mobile QuickPass debuts in Hong Kong
- 4UnionPay International launches premium catering privilege U Dining Collection
- 5UnionPay International’s U Plan has covered over 1600 stores overseas