No Human Bankers in This Chinese Branch

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May 14, 2018

"Little Dragon" can help you with that, customers are told, at China's first human-free bank branch.

"Little Dragon" is the English equivalent of Xiao Long, a robot employee of Shanghai's Jiujiang Road branch of the China Construction Bank. She's not the only robot on the premises, however. Another machine awaits to further assist customers.

Bankin robot in China

Customers at the bank start with "Little Dragon," entering a PIN pad that she she is holding, in order to access bank information. Customers can also have conversations with customers, answering basic questions; if she is asked, she will direct customers further inside the bank, to a virtual reality room, in which customers can talk to a person, via a video link. In between are automated teller machines that can not only dispense cash but also open accounts, transfer money, and even perform foreign currency exchange.

The only chance that customers have of interacting face-to-face with another person is spending too much time not doing their banking. Watching a large array of security cameras are people, who will quickly dispatch a human security guard to help customers keep their visits strictly business.

It's a part of a growing trend in China, and in other countries, of robots being used to perform critical functions, part of a five-year government plan to produce tens of thousands of industrial robots a year.

At some railway stations, robots scan travelers' faces and report anything suspicious to human security. More helpfully, some robots can answer questions from lost travelers.

The dining industry in China has also seen a rise in robot waiters, although customers have often complained at the lack of speed of such machines.

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David White