Since the turn of the century, many in the financial industry wrestled with what future role — if any — branches might have. The big question: Will mobile and digital services kill the brick-and-mortar channel? But anyone in the banking world who pretends they know for certain whether branches will or won’t be relevant in another 10-20 years is purely speculating.
Most financial institutions concede that there is indeed a continuing need to have a physical presence, so they innovate and play with branches, experimenting with various sizes and forms. Some contemporary banking providers like ING Direct (now Capital One) made the radical decision to entirely eliminate transactions from their branches, turning them into pure cafés. Such concepts were far and few between, and those that tried them were often ridiculed.
That was then. This is now. Today, more and more financial institutions are turning their locations into lounges and cafés. While Starbucks has widely been credited with inventing the concept of the “third place” — a comfortable space between work and home where people can meet up and hang out — retail banking providers have been adopting this strategy at a furious pace. Take a look below and see for yourself.
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CaixaBank – imaginCafé
in Barcelona is intended to support CaixaBank’s imaginBank brand, the mobile-only spinoff created specifically for young people. The idea behind imaginCafé is to create a platform for online and offline content that is open to user participation and offers an extensive range of activities of interest to young people.
imaginCafé will host a wide range of events and promote initiatives targeting “young creators”, specifically those related working in technology, music and similar creative industries. Among the planned activities, there will be concerts, live shows, gaming sessions, DJ performances, cinema screenings, video art shows, exhibitions, presentations, and lectures.
The space will be open to anyone interested in the events, although there will be exclusive activities for imaginBank customers, as well as premium content and a variety of benefits and discounts.
ImaginCafé is divided into three floors, with specific zones for food and drink, exhibition spaces, giant screens for A/V exhibits, special areas for workshops and interactive training sessions, along with an auditorium that can accommodate up to 250 people.
The café will be open every day of the week. The timetable will be Sunday to Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday from 8 a.m. through to midnight.
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Virgin Money Lounge – Cardiff
Virgin Money has opened its eight lounge in the UK, this one in Cardiff. As with all the other lounges they’ve opened, this one really isn’t about transactions. It’s a place where people can relax, unwind and hang out — a perk for customers and a branding opportunity for the wider community. Whether you have a Virgin Money account or not, you can pop in for free refreshments including tea, coffee, soft drinks and the biscuits. There’s meeting space that can be reserved — free to civic organizations and other non-profits.
The first few photos are specifically of the new Cardiff location, but we just had to include some shots from the Virgin Money Lounges because they are simply gorgeous.