Last week, Johnnie Moore posted a story on the ING Direct Cafe.
The place is staffed by Barrista-Bankers. They can serve you coffee and cake and/or can get you a mortgage. Customers can surf the net, sip their coffee and - if they like - do some banking.
I really liked this idea. This is not just adding a coffee pot to the banking hall, this is a fairly radical rethink of what a retail bank should look like. And it takes a primarily internet bank to think of it.
I've always wondered why bankers are so stuck in the traditional thinking of what a bank should be, since it seems to me there are so many opportunities to create an interesting and compelling experience around money. For instance, I can't understand why banks would allow the "piggy bank" experience to remain in the home, rather than in a bank. Many kids have piggy banks, and we parents enjoy giving them change to help them learn about saving. My son has one on a shelf right in his room -- which means the whole experience of learning to save never has to have a single thing to do with a financial institution.
If a bank was smart, it would create a really cool, brightly colored savings bank within its four walls just for kids. Do you know how often I'd go to a bank's retail outlet if my son had a key to his own kid-sized "safe deposit box" where he could keep his change, savings bonds and other similar things? Not every day, of course, but let's say at least once a quarter, which is four times more than I go into a bank now. And don't bankers make more money off of us when we're with them face to face, and they're able to sell us things like IRA accounts and college loans? Just a thought.