In the age of smartphones, many people, particularly young people, are more content to simply use their phones or laptops to do their banking.

As a result of this increasing phenomenon, more and more branches are coming up with creative ways to get people in the doors, determined to persuade them of the value of doing banking in person. In order to draw in new and younger clients, new reports show that many banks are starting to offer various amenities inside their branches.

Among some of these attractions intended to increase foot traffic are, “free Wi-Fi, discounted cappuccinos, artwork, and a dancing robot,” according to Reuters.

Capital One brought in “Pepper” the robot to help draw in young customers.

The robot’s name is “Pepper,” who HSBC Holdings PLC in New York has set up to greet people entering the building.

One of the more ambitious models belongs to Capital One who has set up a number of Bank-Cafés to try and create a friendlier relationship with consumers. Back in 2016, after purchasing ING Direct, Capital One began to redesign their locations giving them a more modern and trendy design. According to the Financial Brand, “the spaces have been redesigned to reflect trends in tech office design, with treatments like exposed ceilings and natural wood textures.”

Despite their best efforts however in using cafés to drum up business, in interviews with eight patrons at Capital One’s bank-café in New York, Reuters reported this month that of those eight, “six said they were there to charge phones or enjoy an iced coffee, not to carry out any transactions or become bank customers.”

Banks are taking hints from the tech industry, with exposed wood and ceilings, and offering gourmet coffee drinks.

Although cappuccinos perhaps aren’t enough to get people to actually open accounts, start getting checks, and ordering credit cards, HSBC head of innovation Jeremy Balkin told Reuters that they saw an account opening increase of 20% in the month of July, compared to prior months. The difference? July was the first full month of the robot Pepper’s presence at the branch.

No doubt it’s hard for bank branches to compete in the era of online mobile banking; and as Europe and Asia are already far ahead with developing digital platforms, using cafés, waving robots, and charging stations may be the beginning of a whole new effort on the part of banks to sell themselves to a younger generation.


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