Mastercard has announced that it is powering the first commercial application of SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper, creating a service in Pizza Hut restaurants in Asia.
The service will have Mastercard’s digital payment service MasterPass as the core and Pizza Hut, the first brand to come on board to test the service, aims to trial Pepper over the next few months with the goal for it to be live in-store in Asian restaurants by the end of 2016.
Tobias Puehse, vice president, innovation management, digital payments and labs at MasterCard, said: “Consumers have come to expect personalized service, customized offers and simple and seamless processes both in-store and online. 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.”
Pepper will be programmed to launch on greeting, or when activated via a QR code or once the MasterPass has been activated within the app. Pepper will give personalised offers and suggestions, as well as helping with checking out and paying.
The idea is to reduce the friction and waiting time for customers, particularly in restaurants where high turnover is needed. Similarly, the data-led personalisation will theoretically help restaurants and stores add more value to each transaction by adding in additional sales.
Vipul Chawla, managing director of Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia, said: “Core to our digital transformation journey is the ability to make it easier for customers to engage, connect and transact with Pizza Hut. With an order-and-payment-enabled Pepper, customers can now come to expect personalized ordering at our stores, reduce wait time for carryout, and have a fun, frictionless user experience.”
Pepper isn’t a newcomer to the robotics scene but owner SoftBank is preparing to launch it to a wider market, including the US, and has recently launched its first ad campaign for it.
The content of the campaign shows how people can interact with Pepper but also teases ideas for developers, showing that partnerships will be key to helping the firm establish more use cases for the robot.
Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, The Drum met Pepper the robot and spoke with Aldebaran Robotics about how it works.