The purpose of this paper is to understand technology diffusion in the banking sector in India by analyzing ATM (automatic teller machine) technology and its replacement of the teller (labor). ATMs are fast emerging as an important IT investment for a bank in India. Hence, in this paper the authors use the ATM as a proxy for capital and the teller as a proxy for labor.
The debate on the “IT paradox” is the motivation for this paper. The constant elasticity of substitution (CES) model is used, as the degree of substitution can be estimated. The degree of substitutability of one form of input for another namely, ATM (capital) for teller (labor), is discussed by developing an appropriate model to understand the same.
The rapid diffusion of the ATM was clearly large from 1998, nine years after it was first adopted. This was also a time when the number of tellers was falling and the wage bill for tellers increasing. The CES production function model used in this paper is clearly a good predictor of the data compared with the other cases. The estimate shows that the degree of substitutability of the teller by the ATM is high. However, the ATM is not a perfect substitute. By running counterfactual experiments, it can be concluded that both a fall in the price of ATMs and an increase in the wage bill for tellers contributed to the diffusion of the ATM.
The excess labor in public sector banks needs to be redeployed rapidly, or staff need to be trained in other functions as do private banks, so that they do not become redundant as technology diffuses.
The paper is original in its data, its model building and testing in the banking sector.
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