Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is proving assembly lines shouldn’t be the only ones with robots as it introduces Nao, the world’s first banking robot into its branches next month. Nao stands two feet tall, speaks 19 languages and doesn’t take any breaks. Developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French company owned by Softbank, Nao is also one of the first robots to recognize and “feel”/mimic human emotion. Ask about a problem with your statement and Nao will judge the level of frustration, anger or sadness. Nao will not only render a context-appropriate response but may lead you directly to the branch manager should your situation and emotions warrant.
Nao is also equipped with four high-fidelity microphones that not only allows it to turn its head to where the sound is coming from and move to the appropriate distance, but can analyze voice patterns to detect identification as well as emotion. High-definition cameras will also record and match different customers so identification will begin as soon as the customer steps through the door of the branch.
Connected to a cloud-based artificial intelligence engine, Nao will have access to read and write to the customer relationship management application so that it will be the first to wish the customer “Happy Birthday,” recognize when a missing field needs to be updated (and wait for the appropriate time to ask) and route the customer to the appropriate person based on past experience, products utilized or current mobile activity. Nao will store each piece of new information and each interaction in order to learn a customer’s preferences and personality in order to increase the accuracy of the interaction for the next meeting.
“Hello and welcome,” went a Nao interaction to a customer walking into the room. “It looks like you might be interested in foreign exchange or overseas remittance (as it looked at the past reason the customer came to the branch).” Is this true or would you like something else?” Nao can talk about a wide range of banking topics as well as be fully conversant on current events, weather and directions.
Nao can last 12 hours between charges, costs approximately $8,000 and can remember details from more than 5.5 million customers and over 100 different products. While we are not sure if robots are the future of banking, at an $8,000 price point, we can say that it seems worth it if nothing else to be the first in your community to have a banking robot. The press and the branch traffic alone will pay for the effort. If that is not enough, what banking is missing is that level of customization that personalizes the interaction for each customer in order to optimize the customer experience. While it’s unfortunate for humankind that human empathy and helpfulness has to come from a robot, banking is in desperate need of greater engagement. Nao may just be the missing piece to the human banking experience.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on February 04, 2015