Pizza Hut Asia will be the first commerce partner to test “Pepper,” SoftBank Robotics’ humanoid robot, which is aimed at bringing greater intelligence to machines in order to create a more seamless and intuitive user experience in stores.
MasterPass, MasterCard’s digital wallet and mobile payments platform, will power the application the companies said Tuesday.
Consumers will be able to interact with the technology by simply greeting Pepper and pairing their MasterPass account by either tapping the icon within the wallet or scanning a QR code on the tablet that the robot holds. Pepper will then be able to provide personalized recommendations, product information, and complete transactions. In its current form, the app is built to provide simple and secure digital payments in a QSR setting, but the same capabilities could be applicable to engagement at hotels, banks, airports, and other customer service industries, according to a representative from MasterCard.
“Consumers have come to expect personalized service, customized offers and simple and seamless processes both in-store and online,” said Tobias Puehse, VP, innovation management, Digital Payments & Labs at MasterCard. “The app’s goal is to provide consumers with more memorable and personalized shopping experience beyond today’s self-serve machines and kiosks, by combining Pepper’s intelligence with a secure digital payment experience via MasterPass.”
The Pizza Hut pilot test marks a step forward in the use of AI in commerce, as the partnership with MasterCard extends the robots ability to combine customer service, information, and POS systems into one user experience.
Will customers feel comfortable ordering from, well, a literal robot? It remains to be seen. Some forward-thinking consumers will likely welcome the “brave new world,” while others will be skeptical — but this reaction parallels the adoption of mobile payments as a whole. As that technology continues to grow and become more accepted, consumers will likely welcome further adaptations of the concept that make the entire experience more seamless and more personal — which is the ultimate goal of Pepper.
“Today’s tablets or kiosks in retail environments have limited scope of providing a truly an interactive, intuitive, and personalized customer experience,” Puehse said. “With Pepper, customers will have a human-like, natural language conversation where their words, gestures and expressions are understood. Pepper adjusts to the human instead of the human adjusting to a digital interface or kiosk… personalizing the conversation via access to a customer’s digital wallet history and data to better serve people.”