1,000 jobs at risk?
AI is becoming a job killer at Klarna
December 7, 2023, 11:20 a.m
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Since the ChatGPT boom, there has been great fear: Will a number of jobs be taken over by artificial intelligence in the future? The fear is already becoming reality with the payment service provider Klarna. Founder Siemiatkowski imposes a hiring freeze.
The ranks are thinning out in Klarna’s offices. The Swedish payment service provider recently imposed a hiring freeze because artificial intelligence is taking on more and more tasks. This makes what many AI critics have warned about since the ChatGPT boom a reality for the fintech.
According to Klarna founder and managing director Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the Swedish payment provider could shrink by up to 1,000 employees in the coming year. “We see that in the future we will be able to offer more and higher quality products even with fewer employees,” said the founder RTL/ntv. There are no plans for layoffs. “We will always recruit a little in some areas, but we will allow people to leave our company and over time we will become a smaller company as a result.”
According to Siemiatkowski, 15 to 20 percent of employees leave the company every year. “If we stop recruiting, we will probably automatically shrink by that size.” According to Klarna, it currently employs around 5,000 people. 20 percent corresponds to 1000 jobs.
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Siemiatkowski expects massive upheavals for the entire labor market. “The typical answer that AI will also create new jobs is too simple, the changes are too big for that. And I think we have to offer something to the people who will be affected by it.” Europe must take a leadership role when it comes to exploring the opportunities of AI. When asked about their own responsibility, Siemiatkowski said that Klarna might be able to pay higher wages in the future because AI increases efficiency.
According to McKinsey experts, Germany has a solid foundation to take on an AI leadership role in Europe or even worldwide. “Europe needs local driving forces in a pan-European network in order to jointly shape the transformative power of GenAI and not lose touch with the USA and China,” says Gérard Richter, head of McKinsey Digital in Germany and Europe. However, there is a lack of investment in the topic of AI in the Federal Republic, say the study authors. “Germany is an entrepreneurial but underfinanced country with great potential to take on a European leadership role.”
According to the Federal Statistical Office, one in eight companies in Germany is already using AI. AI is used far more often in large companies with at least 250 employees than in small and medium-sized companies. It is already used in just over one in three large companies (35 percent), but only in one in six medium-sized companies (16 percent) with 50 to 249 employees. In smaller companies with ten to 49 employees, the proportion is only ten percent.