Monday, July 7, 2014

Antwerp's Pop-Up Bank

Mainstream banking is like mainstream theater in a way -- the demographic is getting older. How to appeal to younger customers? PNB Paribas takes a novel approach with its Hello bank! subsidiary, self-described as "the first 100% digital mobile bank in Europe." Business history is full of interesting firsts. I visited the pop-up in Antwerp, Belgium, on the city's busiest shopping promenade. The signage grabbed me from across the street. No tellers. No platforms. Instead: Co-working space, 3D printing, cheap coffee, smartphone repair, free e-newspapers, and free wi-fi. Interesting that the digital strategy includes physical spaces--after all, we still live in the physical world. president
Marian Calabro in the
Renault Twizy at Antwerp's
Hello bank!

Founded in 2013, Hello bank! claims to have 177,000 clients. Putting PNB Paribas's other woes aside, this seems like an effective way to extend a banking brand. Oh, and this particular branch had a Renault Twizy, a one-seat car. You couldn't drive it away, but you could sit in it, as I did.