Starting today, customers at HSBC’s New York City flagship will be greeted by a friendly humanoid face. The bank’s Fifth Avenue location is employing Pepper, the customer service ‘bot that has become the face of Softbank’s growing robotics wing in recent years.
In the few years it’s been available, Pepper has held a veritable factotum of different gigs, from airport greeter, to shopping mall info desk staffer. The robot has held even more roles in its native Japan, finally grabbing some temp work in the U.S. back in 2016.
As far as what such a product offers that you won’t get with the standard flesh and blood bank employee, the answer still seems to come down to novelty, as HSBC looks to offer Manhattanites a glimpse at “the branch of the future.”
“We are offering the approximately two million people who live or work within a half mile radius of our flagship branch, and the millions more who walk Fifth Avenue daily, an experience in retail banking like never before,” HSBC’s Pablo Sanchez said in a press release tied to the announcement. “We’re focused on developing the ‘branch of the future,’ and our use of Pepper will streamline branch operations and delight our customers, allowing bank staff to have deeper, more high-value customer engagements.”
The robot will be tasked with informing patrons of self-service banking options and answering some basic questions. Oh, and it will also take selfies. No specific details on when additional units might be hitting more U.S. locations, but the company says, “Pepper is part of a larger vision being rolled out in the coming months that will transform HSBC’s branch banking experience.”
Pepper is, of course, one prong of Softbank’s robotics strategy, which now also includes Boston Dynamics, which is purchased from Alphabet.