Pepper definitely had a few advantages going into the interviews, and it looks like they’ve paid off. It’s a lot more friendly looking than your standard ATM, that’s for sure.
Pepper’s first day at HSBC’s New York City hotspot has been going quite well. In the past couple of years, Pepper has become the face of Softbank‘s ever-expanding robotics wing, and today all that fame finally paid off.
For those unfamiliar, Pepper is a greeting / sales bot designed for friendly interactions with customers, data analysis and collection, and more. Pepper can automatically write and send notification texts to important parties, keep and manage a guest list, answer questions, direct guests and more.
Pepper has been taking up a bunch of different roles all over the marked during the few years it’s been available. Although the positions usually don’t involve much movement, they do involve plenty of work greeting customers, which is Pepper’s specialty. Many of its roles have been in Japan where the bot was born, but we’re glad to see its friendly face coming around to the United States.
But unfortunately for Pepper, it has been unable to break free from being a tourist attraction at the places it operates for, according to HSBC’s Pablo Sanchez.
“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,” says Sanchez. “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.”
As for its duties in this bank, management staff has briefed Pepper on a variety of different self-service banking options, as well as answering a few standard questions. And upon repeated requests from the bot, superiors will be allowing it to take selfies with awed customers.
But HSBC seems to have big plans for Pepper. According to the bank, Pepper is part of a larger initiative that will hope to see the friendly bot in more positions around the globe. The company says they will be looking toward robotics to “transform HSBC’s branch banking experience,” but they don’t mention that Pepper will be the one to do it specifically.
Still, here’s to hoping that Pepper will at least be considered when HSBC looks to replace more of their higher-up staff with robots. It certainly deserves it, after being stuck in low-pay service jobs for so long. Hopefully, Pepper will be able to rise through the ranks and become a respected member of HSBC’s branch banking.
On a more serious note, if more Pepper bots or other machines prove their ability to perform service jobs, even those involving direct human interaction, in a similar manner as a live person, unemployment may soon become a much bigger issue. Robots don’t have minimum wage requirements, limits to working hours, or other such limitations on what a company can do with them. If machines continue to prove effective at customer interactions on a larger and larger scale, governments may need to consider adding some restrictions to the amount of automation that companies can introduce into their workforce.