Designing Branches to Look Like Apple Stores In a Struggle to Remain Relevant

You walk in, greeted not by a person, but radiant digital displays that follow the clean lines of the building. Cutting-edge technology is propped along the desks and walls, and a mix of customers and employees (sometimes difficult to differentiate) mill about the room with little need for conversation. No, you are not in an Apple store — you’re at the bank.

The days when bank customers were greeted by a person in a conservative suit and then sent to wait in line to speak with a teller are quickly fading. Banks are ditching their stuffy interiors and replacing them with modern, Apple store-like features, all in the hopes of providing the banking experience their 21st century customers want. And from the looks of things, that means a lot of screens and little human interaction.

Citi Smart Banking Leads the Way

There are a few regional banks, like Umpaqua, that fully embraced “smart banking” years ago. For major, national banks, it was Citi that sparked the trend.

In 2008, beginning with its Singapore location, the bank began constructing futuristic branch prototypes that swapped tellers for touchscreens, size with efficiency, and gave locations the overall look and feel of Apple stores. It wasn’t a coincidence, either. Rather than reinventing the wheel when it came to modern design, Citi actually hired the services of Eight, Inc., the architectural and strategic design firm behind Apple, according to The Financial Brand.

continue reading »