Yes, Robotic Banking has arrived. Customers who visit HSBC’s Brickell branch in Miami are being greeted by its newest employee: “Pepper,” a humanoid robot created by SoftBank Robotics.
How wonderful. As if banking weren’t boring enough, now instead of walking up to smiling Sabina, one of my favorite bank tellers, I’ll be greeted digitally at my branch one day by Ralph the Robot.
HSBC on Brickell Avenue is the first retail bank branch in Florida to deploy a robot, who assists customers with opening a bank account, answering credit card questions and even poses for a selfie. What fun.
The robot can respond to voice commands and engage with customers through a touch screen. The rationalization for robots dehumanizing banking is that it will free up human employees for more complex customer interactions, or perhaps more likely put my friends out of work.
So will robots make stepping into a branch a more exciting and memorable experience? Sorry, not for me. I prefer friendly humans like Jim and Sabina at my Bank of America branch in Boca Raton. There’s just something about humans I like.
I heard the HSBC robot has a lighter side, however. On command, it can tell jokes, dance and even offer itself up for a photo. Very cute.
HSBC was the first financial institution in the U.S. to implement Pepper the Robot in retail banking when last June it introduced the robot at its flagship branch in New York City.
In the past year, the New York branch experienced a 60% increase in new business, presumably from increased foot traffic brought by Pepper. Customer satisfaction scores, ATM withdrawals and new credit card applications also have risen. Soon perhaps, so will the unemployment lines.
Meanwhile thousands of robots have been deployed to companies worldwide, a majority of them today in use in Japan.
Excuse me, I need to go charge my fingers, which are typing on low battery.
But don’t miss my latest book LOVE BOAT 78 available soon on Amazon and Kindle from Mascot Books. Read about my experiences with another digital incursion—Internet dating.