Why Your Local Bank Branch Looks More Like A Starbucks These Days

When the new Citibank branch on 64th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan opened in April 2023 after nine months of renovations, a key element was conspicuously absent: the teller window. The new interior seemed more like a hotel lobby, with a lounge area, open meeting spaces and semi-enclosed wooden cubicles shaped like birdcages. Today, instead of lining up in front of a plexiglass partition, customers sit on couches and wait for appointments booked online or approach an employee at what looks like a concierge desk.

The redesign is part of a broader strategy: Since 2017, Citigroup Inc. has been overhauling hundreds of branches to reflect a growing focus on customer relationships and advisory services, instead of check cashing and money transfers. Compared with pre-pandemic levels, teller transaction volume is down 40%, while prescheduled appointments with bankers have tripled in the last two years. “People don’t come here for quarters anymore,” says Matthew Wendt, a Citi area director in New York City.

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