Digital Studio B bank opens in Kensington

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group has opened a one-off innovation lab, called Studio B, to help customers create new ways of thinking about money and how it affects their lives.

The lab, based at 150 Kensington High Street, has been designed by Four by Two. The agency was commissioned to create a truly omnichannel experience that mixed on- and offline communication.

Studio B has been launched to help consumers face the financial world of the future. Research published to coincide with the launch show that ‘Generation Rent’ consumers face having to save for 59 years to get on the property ladder. Research combining YouGov and Zoopla data found nearly a quarter of adults expect to never be able to afford a deposit, and that most people (59%) cite high rents as a barrier to saving more.

The lab on Kensington High Street has a dedicated curator to manage a programme of events designed to empower customer to take control of their finances. A launch competition will offer winners the chance to live rent-free for a year in a penthouse apartment close to the store.

"Our core mission is to enable people to find innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges they are facing today," said Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group's innovation and marketing director Helen Page.

"Studio B is the physical manifestation of our digital ambitions and it gives us the opportunity to lead the way on innovation and shape the future of our industry. Unlike anything else on the high street, Studio B enables us to collaborate directly with customers, big brands and charities on the design of future banking products and services. It allows us to showcase and test our best ideas with colleagues, customers and the public – all alongside a fully functioning branch. It is designed to encourage the next generation of customers to shape banking of the future."

Page described the branch as a flagship which pushes the boundaries of public banking spaces. “The concept could be rolled out in other cities, but we don’t have any plans to do that yet," she said. "While you can do everyday banking at Studio B it is very much a test and learn innovation facility as well as a bank branch. Branches remain a key channel for us and are a place where customers can choose to transact or talk to us about key life events such as opening a current account, exploring mortgages and so on."       

The store format focuses on listening to customers, according to Four by Two. “Most large banks have an innovation lab sited in the HQ, the exciting shift which Studio B creates is that it puts customers at the heart of this questioning, exploratory process,” said agency creative strategy director Mark Beever. “The results of this will be faster application of new ideas that actually benefit all of us, the way we live and consequently manage money has never been in such an exciting period of change. Studio B enables customers to push every button to help in that transformation.”

Customers enter the branch through a gateway formed of mirrors and digital screens. Large desks – which can be reconfigured as benches- hold tablets to allow access to banking apps, while a further large digital display shows constantly moving content.

A ‘lab’ meeting space, private meeting rooms, a café and ATMs line are arranged around the central open zone, which will host a variety of events.