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Customers Saddle Up With Staff in ‘Air Bank’ Branch

The richest man in Czech Republic would like to think he knows a thing or two about money. That’s why Petr Kellner, who has an estimated net worth of $9.2 billion, is trying to revolutionize banking in central Europe with his new startup, Air Bank.

The first Air Bank branch opens in Prague in a few weeks. It has no classical teller counter; the branches are entirely cashless. In fact, the branch is so heavy with technology that is it almost entirely paperless. And you can forget about stuffy bankers wearing traditional, conservative business attire. Air Bank Customers are greeted by bankers wearing jeans.

Once inside, customers can choose to sit and any one of the eight computer terminals available in the branch’s open floor plan. If they prefer to work alone, they can use the computer terminal for self-service. But if a customer requires assistance, they sit side-by-side with the bank employee, watching everything happening on the service agent’s screen.

Air Bank says this arrangement comforts customers in two ways. First, being able to see what the service representative sees; there’s no hiding anything. Consumers like transparent processes — especially with potentially confusing and cryptic matters like banking. Details and personal information about the customer are plainly visible. Second, Air Bank believes people are more relaxed when others aren’t queued up behind them, looking over their shoulder (an experience in retail circles known as “the butt brush factor). Studies have shown that shoppers become tense and impatient — thereby buying less — when the layout of a retail space forces other shoppers to get too close for comfort.

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For more consultative interactions, staff can meet with customers in a private conference room.

Cash transactions are to be handled by through the bank’s exterior-facing state-of-the-art ATMs. The coolest feature these ATMs offer? Customers can choose their own mix of denominations when withdrawing cash.

Air Bank plans to have 8-12 locations open in the next few years, with the ultimate vision of a 40-branch network.

The space was developed by Italian architectural firm Crea International, a major force in European branch design.

The firm says its concept for Air Bank was inspired by the ancient Greek “Agora,” an open gathering space, or square for public assemblies.

Crea is also working with Tarik Roustama, a billionaire who owns Russian Standard.

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

 


EditorJoin hundreds of the brightest minds in banking at The Financial Brand Forum, April 30th and May 1st for two full days jam-packed with the latest ideas, insights and innovations in financial marketing. Highlights include keynote speaker Josh Reich from Simple/BBVA, three makeovers live on stage, and an all-star agenda with speakers from Wells Fargo, US Bank, PNC, Navy Federal, Facebook, Nintendo, BMO, banking futurist Brett King and many more!

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Comments

  1. No thanks. I still want a bank that has actual, physical money on site, and people to take it if I want to deposit it and give it to me if I want to withdraw or cash a check. I don’t use ATMs. Also, the layout does not look very disability-friendly, especially for wheelchair users.

  2. Good point about access for disabled customers Bob. I’m assuming Czechs don’t have an equivalent to the Americans With Disabilities Act. It could be very awkward for some people to climb to the upper workstations.

  3. Open up the layout, you’ll find in the position 9a the disable workstation: a point like that is placed in each bank.

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