Rise of the robots: Bank deploys ‘Pepper’ to assist customers
Don’t be afraid, but a robot is being deployed to serve you at one of the world’s largest banks.
Its name is Pepper. It’s a humanoid robot with a tablet for a chest and wheels that let it get around on its own. It’s shiny and cute. It has arms and it has hands that it can tighten into a fist.
But it doesn’t want to hurt you or take anyone’s job, say officials of HSBC Bank, where Pepper is being put to work.
Beginning Thursday, Pepper will greet customers at HSBC Bank’s Brickell branch in Miami, and later, possibly other locations throughout Florida, according to bank officials. Pepper’s Miami launch will be the fourth for the bank, following launches at branches on 5th Avenue in New York City last summer, and in Seattle and Beverly Hills this past spring.
Remember how some banks in the 1970s introduced “Tillie the All Time Teller” by putting a colorful human face on the cold steel ATM machines they wanted us to use to get cash or deposit checks? This is kind of like that, except when it’s not, says Kass Dawson, head of marketing and business strategy at SoftBank Robotics America, Pepper’s inventor and manufacturer.
Pepper’s job is to bring you information about basic services offered by the bank, so the bank’s human employees will have more time for “deeper, more high-value customer engagements,” a bank official said in a recent news release.
Pepper is friendly and social, says Jeremy Balkin, head of Innovation at HSBC Bank USA. It can show customers “how-to” videos on her tablet. It can teach customers how to use the bank’s ATM machine or download its smartphone app. It can send links to your device to help you apply for a credit card or open an account.