Skilled in augmented reality or digital engineering? How about a job as a banker? Global bank HSBC is looking for 1,000 people with such skills as it develops its digital offering in the face of a shift by customers away from traditional forms of banking such as counter services and to boost efficiency. The bank is looking to such areas as artificial intelligence, chatbots and facial recognition technology, according to Josh Bottomley, the bank’s global head of digital, retail banking & wealth management. “HSBC is very keen on building up a digital team of bankers who know how to use big data and new technology to bring in a new banking experience for customers. They would need to know how to create new products and services while at the same time know how to control risks to protect the privacy and security of customers,” he said in a telephone interview with the South China Morning Post. HSBC spends US$2.3b on digital platforms, AI and new technology to reach tech savvy customers The rush to digital banking in Asia is speeding up, pushing banks in the region to invest more in technologies. Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority last year announced a range of measures to encourage local lenders to further develop technologies that would allow customers to enjoy more efficient banking services via the internet or their mobile phones. Half of HSBC’s new headcount will be in the Asia-Pacific region, taking the total to about 1,100 people from the current 600. Bottomley said the bank had to change from physical branch services to a mobile priority as customers wanted to do their banking via smartphones. “Previously customers would go to the bank to do simple transactions such as withdraw cash. Now they want to have mobile apps to manage their bank accounts and conduct trading. They may still go to a branch to apply for a new account or a credit card or mortgage, but many would prefer to do the application via a tablet instead of a paper form,” he said. Of stock trades in Hong Kong by HSBC customers, 41 per cent are made using mobile banking or internet banking. For account openings, 99 per cent of accounts opened at a branch are processed via an employee’s tablet. Standard Chartered to plough more cash into digital banking, says Hong Kong chief The expansion of the digital team does not mean the replacement of traditional staff such as tellers and branch managers, as the bank still needs “bankers who know how to read the balance sheet, how to do credit assessments to approve new loans”, but it means other staff need more training in digital skills, Bottomley said. Many staff formerly working as tellers have received training and now can help customers log in to their account or can provide other online services. New technology such as facial recognition is helping the bank identify its clients and prevent fraud, while it also has chatbots in Hong Kong and mainland China that can answer simple enquiries from retail customers or transfer the calls to staff if unable to answer. Hang Seng Bank to relax loans rules, using big data and fintech to replace old-fashioned banking Bottomley himself is a product of both the banking and technology worlds, having worked at investment banks briefly but spending most of his career in technology firms. Before joining HSBC in May 2013, he was global head of display at Google from 2011 to 2012, and was managing director of data and information company Lexis Nexis for six years until 2011.