Big State-owned Banks Lead Sharp Cuts to Staff Levels as Fintech Takes Off in China

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Chinese banks oversaw sharp reductions to their staffing levels in the first half of 2019, amidst efforts by many lenders to expand online service offerings and launch automated smart outlets.

A total of ten banks Chinese pushed through staff reductions of nearly 40,000 in the first half of 2019, including:

BankStaff reduction compared to 2018Resulting staff numbers
Agricultural Bank of China9237464,500
ICBC10,146439,200
China Construction Bank5567340,400
Bank of China4296305,800
Postal Savings Bank of China2494168,300
Bank of Communications556786,400
China CITIC Bank112555,000
Ping An Bank109734,000
Bank of Beijing7314,687
Bank of Jiangsu11114,915

Most of the staff cuts were in the area of bank tellers, customer managers, as well as some backroom managers and operations personnel.

Postal Bank of China, for example, assigned 2372 of its teller staff to its outlet sales teams in the first half of 2019.

The reductions arrive amidst efforts by Chinese banks to create “smart banks” that make use of automation and 5G technology, as well as expansion of online direct banks such as WeBank and aiBank.

Bank of China and China Construction Bank both opened 5G-driven automated smart banks in Beijing in 2019, while the increasing popularity of online banking has prompted some lenders to shut down local branches in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

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