Jul 16, 2021 - Economy

Extreme makeover, bank edition

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Bank branches were once a staple of neighborhoods across America. Now they are closing by the thousands.

Why it matters: Like the transformation of brick-and-mortar retail, bank branches are trying to evolve from places to buy stuff into places to have an experience.

Driving the news: Most basic banking transactions can easily be accomplished from the couch, leaving 3,400 U.S. branches shuttered over the past 12 months, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

  • In a bid to stay relevant, enter the makeovers. The new locations are more like mass-market wealth management centers without the lux look and feel.

What's happening: These local hubs are morphing into centers for advice — on investments, mortgages, student loans or small business services. That means fewer tellers and more private meeting rooms.

Details: Coffee is big.

  • Capital One rolled out Capital One Cafes, featuring Peet's Coffee shops and lounge areas. The cafe locations offer programs like free money coaching and financial wellness programs, says Shaun Rowley, senior director of Capital One Cafes.
  • Chase Bank has a new "community center" model. These locations host community events, financial health workshops and small business pop-ups. Chase also has a partnership with Joe Coffee in one of its NYC spots.

The intrigue: Even without baristas, banks are changing.

  • Citizens Bank has reduced its overall number of branches, and it's transforming about half the remaining locations to put a focus on advice "in the moments that matter," Bruce Van Saun, CEO of Citizens Financial Group, tells Axios.
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