|3 March 2016|

Japan

Mizuho Bank announced its plans this week to use a new common robotics platform using research developed by IBM Research-Tokyo for the bank’s customer service-oriented robots. This customer-focused initiative builds on Mizuho’s success over the past year using Watson technologies in its call centres to improve client experience.

Most existing robots operate on commercially available technology platforms that can limit customisation and prevent companies from applying robots to new tasks or activities. IBM researchers are developing new technologies that will benefit Mizuho’s Robotics platform by tapping into Watson’s natural language and other cognitive capabilities to facilitate smoother human to robot interaction and to enable collaboration between two or more robots.

Beginning in May, Mizuho Bank will deploy this platform on Pepper robots from SoftBank Robotics across local branches. The robots will interact with bank customers and analyze information from the Mizuho Bank website as well as customer-specific information to offer more personalised customer interactions, allowing bank employees to focus on higher value tasks. Pepper’s unique physical characteristics, complemented by Watson’s natural language processing capabilities, will allow bank customers to have a natural conversation during which their words as well as their gestures and expressions, are understood.

“Mizuho Bank is dedicated to exploring new technologies such as cognitive computing to continually improve our client experience,” said Nobuhide Hayashi, CEO and president, Mizuho Bank. “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.”

“Working with innovators such as Mizuho Bank provides an incredible opportunity to put a cognitive-powered form factor in front of consumers,” says Paul Yonamine, general manager, IBM Japan. “As we further embed cognitive capabilities in robotics, we’ll begin to see consumers engage with this technology in new ways, furthering the growth of the technology.”