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Pizza Hut pilots smartphone-to-robot proximity payments via MasterPass

Pizza Hut in Asia plans to begin piloting a new in-store experience later this year that links a humanoid robot to MasterCard’s MasterPass digital wallet via a smartphone, enabling customers to place and pay for orders.

MasterCard’s lab in Singapore build the first commerce application for SoftBank Robotics’ humanoid robot named Pepper. The integration with Pepper hopes to lay the groundwork for personalized robot-driven shopping and concierge services, in-aisle checkout and omnichannel services across hotels, banks, airports as well as restaurants and other customer service industries.

“Today’s tablets or kiosks in retail environments have limited scope of providing a truly an interactive, intuitive, and personalized customer experience,” said Tobias Puehse, vice president of digital innovation management for digital payments and labs at MasterCard. “With Pepper, customers will have a human-like, natural language conversation where their words, gestures and expressions are understood.

“Pepper adjusts to the human instead of the human adjusting to a digital interface or kiosk,” he said. “Further, Pepper personalizes the conversation via access to a customer’s digital wallet history and data to better serve people.

“The smartphone plays a huge role as the entire payment process including authentication and payment approval happens on a person’s personal mobile device.”

Robot commerce
Pizza Hut Asia will be piloting Pepper for order-taking and personalized engagement to enhance customer service in-store by the end of 2016.

A consumer will be able to initiate an engagement by 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 personalized recommendations and offers, additional information on products and assistance in checking out and paying for items. This is all done via natural language.

No credit card data is directly exchanged with Pepper, with all transactions taking place within the MasterPass wallet on a phone.

Pepper will inform, via Wi-Fi connection to MasterPass, the total payment amount to initiate the transaction. MasterCard will inform Pepper if the transaction has been successful without revealing a customer’s card information.

Personalized in-store ordering
With self-serve machines and kiosks showing endurance as a way to provide added convenience to consumers, the Pepper strategy takes this idea to the next level by enabling the robot to integrate customer service, access to information and sales in a seamless and consistent user experience. The goal is to provide a more memorable and personalized experience for shoppers compared to an average self-serve machine or kiosk.

Pizza Hut sees the pilot as a way to provide personalized ordering at its stores, reduce wait time for carryout and have a fun, frictionless experience.

The Pepper app for MasterPass is being showcased this week at Pepper Partners Europe event in Paris.

The program is the latest example of how merchants such as Pizza Hut continue to bring digital ordering to new touch points.

The Pepper application also adds to MasterCard’s efforts to bring payments to a growing number of consumer gadgets, accessories and wearables, from fitness bands to refrigerators.

“At MasterCard, we are seeing radical shifts in the world of commerce,” Mr. Puehse said. “Consumers are leading an increasingly connected, digital lifestyle – where the digital and physical blend seamlessly together.

“In both developed as well as emerging markets, digital convergence is opening up more and more opportunities for consumers to connect in new ways – it’s changing the way we engage, interact and transact,” he said.