Tellers beware: Japan's Mizuho Bank is about to deploy robots that have been supercharged by IBM's Watson cognitive computing platform in several of its branches.
Mizuho hired a 48-inch humanoid called Pepper at its flagship Tokyo branch last summer to entertain customers with games and multimedia and provide basic information on products.
But now the bank is putting the SoftBank-made robots to more serious work thanks to a new common robotics platform using research developed by IBM Research-Tokyo.
From May, Pepper robots across several branches will take advantage of Watson's natural language and other cognitive capabilities to analyse information from the Mizuho website as well as customer-specific information.
This will enable them to have more personalised interactions so that customers can have a "natural conversation during which their words as well as their gestures and expressions, are understood".
Mizuho says that the robots will free up human staff to focus on higher value work and the bank also plans to tap Watson to improve its mobile app and ATM services.
Nobuhide Hayashi, CEO and president, Mizuho Bank, says: "The insights gained from our collaboration with Watson - and customer interactions with our branch robots - will help us further improve our customer service and drive innovation in the financial space."