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Union Bank’s Robotic Process Automation may cost jobs in the long run—Expert

Digital analysts have started picking holes on the recent introduction of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by Union Bank Plc in some segments of its operations.

The bank argued that the RPA would ease routine banking operations especially in the area of cash dispense errors made by Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

Union Bank’s RPA technology makes use of software robots to simplify business process delivery and improving business efficiency, data security by automating repetitive tasks across multiple business applications without altering existing infrastructure and systems.

Though the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mr. Emeka Emuwa, who spoke during the launch in Lagos, averred that “We are quite pleased to be the first in the banking industry in Nigeria to introduce robotics into our processes,” a software developer who pleaded anonymity explained in an interview that “Robotics all over the world has one thing in common; and that is to cut down on the number of essential workforce of companies”.

“Am aware that there are some staff of the bank that have been resolving the issues now handled by the RPA. Even though the bank can argue that those staff will be redeployed to other duty posts, it is impossible to rule out right sizing to avoid staff redundancy to be created by the advanced application of the software”.

“Besides, there is no way a company will, after observing that a job that was formally done by five staff is now being done perfectly well by a robot and still retain the five workers. Either the staff were redeployed or eased out by way of right-sizing,” the expert noted.

Even though it was not clear if Nigerian labour law had ratified the engagement of robotics that can displace humans in places of work, the bank was quick to claim that with the new technology in place, employees are better able to focus on other value adding and customer related functions to improve the overall quality of customer experience.

However, Emuwa who was silent on chances of sacking any worker based on the adoption of the RPA, observed that “The provision of simpler, smarter banking services to our valued customers is at the core of our business and Robotics Process Automation helps us achieve this objective by leveraging cutting edge technology and innovative partnerships”.

“In the first phase of the Bank’s RPA implementation, reconciliation of ATM transactions are now fully automated, cutting down processing time by over 60 percent and ensuring that refunds on ATM fund dispense errors are promptly and efficiently carried out.

“The Bank’s adoption of RPA technology is expected to enhance staff productivity, reduce process turnaround time and improve accuracy and compliance.

In his defence of RPA reconciliation process on ATMs, Head service assurance/ leader of the RPA project team, Union Bank, Mr. Bunmi Olufeko stated that with the reconciliation process by robots the banks is able to reverse money of  customers with cash dispense error in two hours instead of the mandated three days which are usually done by humans.

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