The status quo of a bank is almost like going into a prison cell. Tellers are behind glass windows/bars, you tell them what you what, they perform a task, and off you go. Sure, some banks have invested in interior overhauls to make the space feel more welcoming, but the basis of interaction with banks for our everyday monetary needs remain routine and functional. Which is why it makes sense that banks and banking are going digital. Some banks don't even have a physical presence. Why go to a bank for services that I can do from home or on my smartphone?
This digital shift in banking and personal finance is also a reflection of the larger trend of the wallet going digital. If you're a bank or financial institution, it's easy to look at these kinds of trends and think that digital is the way forward. Yes, going digital is a necessary step for any personal finance institute looking to remain relevant in the next decade. But the role that banks can play in their customers lives has so much more potential to go beyond a digital service or app.
Which is why the Virgin Money Lounge (it's digital presence could be better designed IMO) caught my eye. It is a service that takes care of your personal needs, not just the functional, routine banking needs. It is a place to work and relax, get financial advice, join networking events, etc. It is even a place where you can leave your kids at without worry. It does all this while reinforcing the typology of a bank as a safe haven, an institution you can trust, accomplished through a relevant physical presence.
What I also found interesting was from a brand point of view. Virgin in my mind has always positioned itself as young, hip, and cool. With the money lounge, Virgin is showing a more mature aspect of the brand, catering to the older, more experienced professional in an appropriate manner that still maintains the core identity of a fun, adventurous brand.
Granted, this concept of creating a lifestyle space that harnesses community is not new for businesses (TOMS has done it, numerous cafes and libraries have done it). However with banking, it really hits home because the subject of money affects everyone, yet it is often an intimidating and complex subject for most people. Definitely a spark for an interesting concept project to take on.