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Pepper Power: HSBC Brings Robot Retail Banking to FinovateFall

Is HSBC’s Pepper the best bot in banking?

Attendees at FinovateFall in New York this September will have an opportunity to judge for themselves as the social humanoid robot, Pepper, makes its Finovate debut. Following our Innovation Keynote on Wednesday, September 25th, attendees will have the opportunity to meet, greet, take selfies with (#PoseWithPepper), interact with, and see Pepper’s capabilities and customer journeys for themselves.

Developed by SoftBank Robotics, Pepper has been deployed at HSBC banks across the U.S. Pepper was first launched at HSBC’s flagship Manhattan branch, and has been rolled out to locations from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington. The technology has been credited for gains in everything from ATM transaction volume to new credit card applications.

“As we’ve already seen in HSBC’s Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills and Seattle branches, Pepper provides services that truly elevate the retail banking experience for both visitors and staff,” Head of Marketing and Business Strategy for SoftBank Robotics America Kass Dawson said.

And in a world in which robotic technologies are often referred to simply as “bots,” and appear to most consumers as mere animations on a digital screen, the arrival of Pepper is both a throwback and a vision into the ways new technologies will enable new forms of banking. Dawson referred to Pepper as a “unique banking experience that is enriched by human-robot interactions.”

HSBC Head of Innovation Jeremy Balkin, who will address FinovateFall this year, explained how Pepper fits in with what he referred to as the “Branch of the Future.” Comparing the rise of robotics in banking to the advent of the smartphone, Balkin said that giving customers products and services that leverage these technologies is key to delivering the digital experience consumers increasingly expect from all service providers.

“By creating these revolutionary new types of digitally enhanced retail banking experiences that use data intelligence and leading edge robotics,” he said, “HSBC is transforming the everyday task of a branch visit into a memorable and extraordinary experience.”

So what does Pepper do? With the ability to provide information on 300 different actions ranging from account opening to applying for a credit card, Pepper performs in three main areas:

  • Attention Please! Pepper helps reduce customer waiting time by communicating directly with bank staff based on customer responses to qualifying questions.
  • Education and Empowerment: Pepper informs customers on the latest available technologies, products, and services such as ATMs, the bank’s mobile app, and self-service options.
  • Product and Service Awareness: Pepper boosts awareness of the bank’s products and services, especially special promotions, by facilitating more productive interactions with HSBC Relationship Managers.

In an extensive feature on Pepper last month, The Financial Brand’s Bill Streeter noted Pepper’s talents: “It uses natural language processing, a component of artificial intelligence to understand multiple languages,” he wrote. “(Pepper) is said to be capable of recognizing basic human emotions and adapting its behavior to what it perceives.”

Streeter quoted HSBC Bank USA’s Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management for the U.S. and Canada Pablo Sanchez who was blunt in describing Pepper’s ability to move metrics positively. “Unless the robot adds value then it is a gimmick,” he said. “But we knew it was going to help us. We just didn’t realize it would get a billion hits and would increase sales so much.”

To learn more about the technology behind Pepper, visit SoftBank Robotics. And to see Pepper in action for yourself, visit our FinovateFall registration page, pick up your ticket, and reserve your spot at the show.