Charge Towards Smart Banking, Mobile Banking Culls Teller Staff in China


The charge towards mobile banking and artificial intelligence-abetted “smart banking” in China has led to a sharp rise in off-premise operations, as well as ongoing declines in the number of counter staff employed by major lenders.

A new report from Investor China (投资者报) points to a sizeable decline in the staff numbers of leading Chinese banks in the first half of 2018, as customers embrace online banking, mobile banking and direct banking.

Shift in staff numbers at selected Chinese banks for the first half of 2018

Bank Staff numbers for first half of 2018 Reduction compared to the end of 2017
ICBC 443,169 9879
Bank of China 305,655 5478
China Construction Bank 346,164 6457
Agricultural Bank of China 477,040 10,267
Bank of Communications 88,605 2635
China Merchants Bank 71,765 765
China Minsheng Bank 57,134 738
Shanghai Pudong Development Bank 52,551 1712
China Everbright Bank 43,089 977
China CITIC Bank 55,602 1122
Total 1,940,774 40,030

Figures courtesy of

The “2017 China Banking Sector Services Report” (2017年中国银行业服务报告》) released In March of this year by the China Banking Association indicates that last year the off-premise transactions of banking sector financial institutions reached 260 billion, for a YoY increase of 46%.

The off-premise transaction sum was 2011 trillion yuan, for YoY growth of 32%, while the industry-wide average off-premise operations rate was nearly 88%, for a rise of more than 3 percentage points compared to the previous year.

The number of online banking transactions totalled 117.2 billion in 2017, for a YoY increase of 37.86%, while the online banking transaction sum was 1725 trillion yuan, for a YoY rise of 33%.

The number of mobile banking transactions was 96.9 billion, for a YoY rise of 103%.

In the first half of 2017 alone15 Chinese banks saw their off-premise operations rate exceed 90%, with the rate.

China Guangfa Bank, China Construction Bank, China Merchants Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Everbright Bank, China Zheshang Bank and China CITIC Bank all had off-premise operations rates of over 95%, while for China Minsheng Bank the off-premise rate was 99.27%.

In addition to a sharp rise in online banking, mobile banking and direct banking, established banks are also taken pains to transform their physical business premises into “smart banks” that required far fewer staff.

Guan Xueqing (官学清),  board secretary of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), announced at a recent press conference that 97% of its banks are now “smart banks,” with smart equipment covering more than 90% of personal non-cash operations.

ICBC’s online transaction volume now accounts for 98% of all bank transactions, while over half of the bank’s customers make use of both online and offline services.