MasterCard payment scheme in Pizza Hut proves Pepper the robot is worth its salt

MasterCard has created the first commerce application for Softbank's humanoid robot Pepper, meaning Pizza Hut customers in Asia will soon have access to a functioning robot waiter.

The news comes after SoftBank revealed an online campaign for the mechanoid ahead of its US and European launch, with the robotics firm hiring California-based marketing agency Midnight Oil to handle market research, brand strategy and positioning, user acquisition and creative executions.

Pizza Hut restaurants in Asia will be the launch partner for the MasterCard service, which is available to users of its digital payment product MasterPass. The pizza chain will begin piloting Pepper by the end of 2016.

Diners first pair their MasterPass account by either tapping the Pepper icon in their digital wallet, or scanning a QR code on a tablet carried by the robot. Pepper can then provide personalised recommendations, product information, and assistance in paying for items.

Pepper can start, approve and complete a payment by connecting to MasterPass via wi-fi with the entire transaction taking place within the customer’s digital wallet.

"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, MasterCard Labs Asia Pacific.

"The app’s goal is to provide consumers with more memorable and personalised shopping experiences beyond today’s self-serve machines and kiosks, by combining Pepper’s intelligence with a secure digital payment experience via MasterPass."

Vipul Chawla, the managing director of Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia, said: "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 personalised ordering at our stores, reduce wait time for takeaways, and have a fun, frictionless user experience."

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