Robots will soon run Pizza Hut

Mastercard has unveiled the first commercial application of SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper, creating an in-store customer service application for Pizza Hut restaurants in Asia.

The application will be powered by MasterPass, a global digital payment service developed by MasterCard that connects consumers with merchants, enabling them to make fast, simple, and secure digital payments across channels and devices.

Working with Yum Brands, the companies will pilot the application in select Pizza Hut stores in Asia Pacific later this year, with a view to go live by the end of 2016.

Pizza Hut will be testing Pepper for orders and checkout, freeing its servers to pay more attention to in-store customer needs, enhance customer service and focus on customer satisfaction.

The order-taking and payment management skills of Pepper also aims to reduce wait-times for delivery and carry-out services, which currently account for about 80% of its sales.

“As part of our digital transformation, we are exploring unique and exciting ways to engage, connect and transact with our customers,” said Karen Chan, chief digital officer, Pizza Hut Asia.

“With a payment-enabled Pepper, customers can have a frictionless order and payment experience and we also have the opportunity seamlessly connect it to loyalty programs that allow instant gratification.”

The app was built by the MasterCard Labs team in Singapore, one of the company’s eight research and development centers across the globe.

“Consumers have come to expect personalised service, customised offers and simple and seamless processes both in-store and online,” said Tobias Puehse, vice president, MasterCard Lab.

“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 via MasterPass.”

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.

The integration with Pepper has the potential to open up opportunities in the world of retail such as personalized 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.