SoftBank’s Pepper robot lands job at Pizza Hut
Tue 24 May 2016
SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper is to be introduced in Pizza Hut restaurants in Singapore by the end of the year. Pepper will be responsible for placing customer orders and processing payments via MasterCard digital service MasterPass.
According to the U.S. payments network, which announced the scheme today, Pepper will take orders either verbally from the customer or digitally through the tablet attached to its chest. Diners can ask for recommendations and special offers, and also request nutritional information and further details about the food and drink.
The process begins with a ‘greeting’, at which point MasterCard holders can link up their account with Pepper using the MasterPass app or scanning a QR code from the tablet. Customers must then authorise the payment before the transaction completes securely.
Vipul Chawla, managing director of Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia, said that Pepper would help the chain explore digital transformation opportunities to improve customer engagement. “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,” he added.
The partnership marks Pepper’s first application in a commercial setting. Until now, technology and telecoms giant SoftBank has sold thousands of Peppers in Japan, primarily implemented in business environments as demo aides and customer assistants. The robot is still largely considered a novelty, yet MasterCard has confirmed that the programme is a genuine attempt to trial the technology for the future development of commercial payments.
Tobias Puehse, MasterCard VP of innovation management at the company’s digital payments and labs team, commented: “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.”