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Pizza Hut and MasterCard to test humanoid robot

MasterCard PepperPizza Hut Asia and MasterCard have partnered to bring Pepper, SoftBank Robotic’s humanoid robot, to restaurants by the end of this year to enhance in-store customer service.

Pizza Hut Asia will be piloting Pepper for order-taking and personalised engagement. This marks the first commercial application for Pepper, according to MasterCard.

Pepper, which was unveiled on Tuesday, will be powered by MasterPass, the global digital payment service from MasterCard that connects consumers with merchants, enabling them to make digital payments across channels and devices.

MasterPass extends the robot’s ability to integrate customer service, access to information and sales into a seamless and consistent user experience.

“Consumers have come to expect personalised service, customised offers and simple and seamless processes both in-store and online,” said Tobias Puehse, vice president, Innovation Management, Digital Payments and Labs, Asia/Pacific, MasterCard. “The app’s goal is to provide consumers with more memorable and personalised shopping experience beyond today’s self-serve machines and kiosks, by combining Pepper’s intelligence with a secure digital payment experience via MasterPass,” Puehse said.

A consumer will be able to initiate an engagement by simply greeting Pepper and pairing the consumer’s MasterPass account by either tapping the Pepper icon within the wallet or by scanning a QR code on the tablet that the robot holds. After pairing with MasterPass, Pepper will be able to assist cardholders by providing personalised recommendations and offers, additional information on products, and assistance in checking out and paying for items. Pepper will be able to initiate, approve and complete a transaction by connecting to MasterPass via a Wi-Fi connection and the entire transaction happens within the wallet.

“We are excited to welcome Pepper to the Pizza Hut family,” said Vipul Chawla, managing director of Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia. “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,” Chawla said.

The app was built by the MasterCard Labs team in Singapore, one of the company’s eight research and development centers across the globe. The Pepper application adds to ongoing MasterCard programs that bring payments to any consumer gadget, accessory or wearable – from fitness bands to refrigerators and now robots. The integration with Pepper, MasterCard stated, has the potential to open up opportunities in the world of retail such as personalised shopping and concierge services, in-aisle checkout and the ability to buy in store but get the goods delivered at home. The same capability would also be applicable to other consumer engagement locations such as hotels, banks, airports, and other customer service industries.

The app is being showcased at the Pepper Partners Europe event hosted by SoftBank Robotics Europe (a SoftBank Robotics Holdings group company) in Paris until May 26.

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