HSBC Bank Rolls Out Pepper Robot at Flagship U.S. Branch

HSBC Bank welcomes SoftBank Robotics' humanoid robot Pepper to its Fifth Avenue branch in New York. (Credit: Mark Von Holden/AP Images for HSBC)

June 26, 2018      

NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO — For Americans who have dreamed of an exciting retail banking future experience, HSBC and SoftBank Robotics are bringing that future a little closer — specifically, to New York City. HSBC Bank USA N.A. and SoftBank Robotics America, the North American arm of SoftBank Robotics Group, have partnered to bring humanoid social robot Pepper® to HSBC’s bank branches.

Beginning today, HSBC Bank becomes the first financial institution in the U.S. to bring SoftBank Robotics America’s (SBRA) Pepper to retail banking. When the doors open at HSBC’s iconic Fifth Avenue branch in Manhattan, customers will be greeted for the first time by Pepper, which will be standing ready to answer questions and provide a memorable banking experience.

SBRA’s service robot is part of a larger vision being rolled out in the coming months that will transform HSBC’s branch banking experience.

Robots part of retail transformation at HSBC Bank

“We are offering the approximately 2 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,” said Pablo Sanchez, regional head of retail banking and wealth management (RBWM) for HSBC in the U.S. and Canada. “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.”

SoftBank's Pepper greets New Yorkers at HSBC Bank's flagship branch.

New Yorkers meet HSBC Bank’s newest team member, SoftBank’s Pepper robot, at the Manhattan flagship branch yesterday. (Credit: Mark Von Holden/AP Images for HSBC)

“Pepper will help educate consumers on basic product information and the availability of self-service banking options, as well as ask some initial questions to determine how we can best meet their banking needs,” Sanchez said.

HSBC Bank recently spent $131 million on a successful Retail Transformation Program in the U.S., with a host of consumer-facing upgrades taking the franchise in an exciting new direction.

The bank was also recently named a finalist for The Most Innovative Bank by LendIt Fintech USA and was named the World’s Best Bank at the 2017 Euromoney Awards.

By creating a revolutionary new type of digitally enhanced retail banking experience, one that uses data intelligence and leading-edge robotics, HSBC said it will transform the everyday task of a branch visit into the extraordinary. This is why HSBC Bank is embracing robotics technology that will advance its retail offering on Fifth Avenue as quickly as smartphones have advanced the mobile banking customer experience.

“With Pepper at HSBC Bank’s flagship retail branch, we’re marking several noteworthy firsts: Pepper’s first deployment at a retail bank in the United States, and the first time a robot will be engaging in conversational interactions with banking customers,” said Steve Carlin, chief strategy officer at SoftBank Robotics America. “Humanoid robots helping people and working alongside human co-workers is an idea no longer relegated to the realm of popular culture and science fiction. Pepper will bring real benefits to HSBC banking customers.”

“Customer behavior is changing in retail banking in the U.S.,” said Jeremy Balkin, head of innovation for HSBC Bank. “By partnering with SoftBank Robotics, our customers will benefit from interacting with Pepper, a world-leading technology, to enhance and deepen their overall branch experience. We believe retail banking customers should also enjoy cutting-edge, best-in-class innovative customer experiences that are synonymous with shopping on Fifth Avenue.”

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Pepper provides updated customer experience

To overcome traditional perceptions of retail bank branches, Pepper’s standard capabilities were customized to create a retail banking experience that will exceed expectations of U.S. consumers.

HSBC will use Pepper in the branch to enrich the value and depth of customer engagements — and the overall branch experience — by offering customers information on products, services, and banking tools in a “self-service” atmosphere.

Key features will include:

  • Notify a banker: Pepper will communicate directly with bank staff based on customers’ answers to qualifying questions. HSBC’s goal is to reduce customer waiting time and free up the valuable time of its skilled bankers to deliver a more personalized service.
  • Tutorials and instructions: As HSBC Bank begins to roll out its bank branches of the future, customers need to be kept up to date on the latest banking technologies, products, and services. Pepper provides information on ATMs, the HSBC Mobile Banking app, self-service options, customer support, and more. By educating and encouraging use of technical tools and platforms available to HSBC customers, bank staffers can have deeper, more meaningful customer engagements.
  • Products and services: Pepper will be used to drive attention to and awareness of HSBC products and services, including special promotions, so that customers can be better informed and come prepared when heading into interactions with HSBC Relationship Managers.
  • #PoseWithPepper: Pepper is all about making the retail banking experience fun and enjoyable for customers. HSBC will be launching a campaign to visit the 452 5th Avenue flagship branch and #PoseWithPepper for a selfie. Customers and visitors are encouraged to upload their photos to their favorite social media channels using the hashtags #HSBCat452, #MeetPepper, and #PoseWithPepper.

No longer just a proof of concept, Pepper is here to improve the customer experience for North American businesses.

Pepper also supports staffers by answering commonly asked questions that take time away from assisting other customer needs.

Pepper is designed to provide a unique, interactive experience in business environments such as financial services, retail, hospitality, travel, and healthcare, said SoftBank.

Pepper offers new ways for businesses to engage and communicate with customers and clients through conversation.

SoftBank Robotics said it is rolling out Pepper in North America, Asia, and Europe with a business-first approach.

“Whoever said banking needs to be boring, was wrong!” said HSBC Bank’s Balkin.