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Tampa will get its own Capital One Cafe as big banks fight to attract millennials

With competition from startup financial companies, big banks have to get creative to hold onto their millennial customers.

TAMPA — Capital One Cafe is coming to Tampa, as the financial corporation continues efforts to win over millennial customers with a coffee shop and bank setting that's absent of tellers.

With smartphone apps that handle money transfers, rent payments and financial planning, traditional banks are left trying to draw younger customers who may distrust them following the 2008 financial crisis. Experts say Capital One's cafes are just one of the ways big banks are trying to stay relevant in the age of financial technology, or "fintech."

"There's two specific things we are starting to see," said Sridhar Sundaram, the dean of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg's business school. "The emergence of technology and mobile platforms for payments and the second, more business being conducted at the Starbucks and coffee houses … few people are going into traditional banks."

Capital One Cafe announced it will be moving into the Hyde Park Village, South Tampa's outdoor mall, at 755 S Village Circle. Capital One did not release an opening date, but said it would be this year. The location will have a Peet's Coffee bar, sell baked goods and have open seating available to anyone, even those without a Capital One account.

Capital One's cafes started growing in 2017 in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Chicago. The Tampa location will be the first of its kind in Central Florida. The four existing Florida locations are toward the southern part of the sate and the cafes are in 13 total markets. Those market locations tend to serve areas with concentrations of wealthy millennials and Gen-Xers.

"At Capital One, we're reimagining banking so that it's a simple, straight-forward experience designed for you," said market executive Mike Friedman in a statement. "As a digital bank that relies on great design to better improve customer experience, we have long wanted to build a presence in Tampa."

Capital One cafe look more coffee spot than they do bank. There are meeting rooms, nooks and free Wi-Fi. One-on-one money coaching and group money workshops are available for financial planning. Rows of tablets and screens have interactive digital tools with financial lessons. A side area with ATMs is called "DIY banking."

Traditionally, banks were places people visited to do things they now can manage from smartphones.

"Now, we stop by banks to explore," said Huijian Dong, a finance professor at USF St. Pete. "It's no longer a need-based center, but a help-based center."

That change has created an opportunity for banks to take on mentor roles, said Dong, rather than exist just as lenders. It has prompted big banks to invest more in artificial intelligence — think Bank of America's digital financial assistant "Erica" — and apps that help manage student loans.

Every big financial corporation is figuring out how best to apply fintech so they don't lose customers completely to new startups and mobile technologies.

Capital One is just serving up its tech with a latte and muffin on the side.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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