ATB Financial introduces Pepper, Canada’s first bank robot assistant

Pepper robots will be assisting customers in select ATB branches beginning May.

Next time you walk into an ATB Financial, you might not be welcomed by a human being, but a robot.

ATB, in partnership with SoftBank Robotics America (SBRA), today announced the arrival of Pepper, a humanoid robot that’s designed to interact with customers at select branches in Calgary starting May 2017.

The first one of its kind in North America, Pepper is a 4-foot robot capable of providing banking information and services, engaging in financial literacy quizzes, and even dancing.

Dave Mowat, president and CEO of ATB Financial, says that Pepper is an introduction to the technology of voice and visual recognition, something he hopes will introduce a more efficient approach to banking inquiries.

“What she embodies is the ability to interact in ways that are really efficient.” Mowat says. “Ultimately, she could remember your face. You walk in two years later and she still says ‘hi, how are you?’”

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But Mowat stresses that Pepper will help clients make routine tasks easier. “You want the balance of your account. You want to pay out a figure in your account.” He adds, “We think that artificial intelligence in a robot can help us do that. So, our human beings can spend more time on the higher value stuff for their customers.”

ATB customers will be able to talk and interact with Pepper’s  touch-screen tablet, learning about products and services, improving their financial literacy, and even requesting a selfie or some dance moves.

At the moment, the robot is a proof of concept aimed at helping ATB understand the way people interact with robots. Learning more about particular individuals increases Pepper’s skills at creating a new type of digitally enhanced banking experience.

Pepper will make his debut at the Chinook Centre ATB branch May 1, followed by 8th Avenue Place, and then the Stephen Avenue Centre branch in July.

The project is part of SBRA’s North American strategy, which included two U.S. pilot programs with Pepper.

Following Asia and Europe’s roll-outs, the company hopes “Peppers” will soon take roles in retail, hospitality, travel, financial services, and healthcare.

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