In 2014 and 2015, Capital One bank rolled out a series of
“banking cafes” throughout Boston, one of which is located right here in
Harvard Square. The first Capital One Café was established in NYC in
2001. Since 2001, traditional banking has given way to the dominance of online banking. Capital One’s unique idea of “banking cafes” is strategically constructed to
benefit the bank. These cafes help the bank maintain face-to-face communication
with customers in the age of online banking. 

Anyone is welcome to eat or work in the cafes, which are
clean, sleek, and modern. There was certainly a substantial amount of corporate
strategy research that went in to the idea of investing in new cafes. Capital
One evaluated how many new customers they would gain and how many existing
banking customers they would retain through each café. They examined the profit
that each of these new customers would generate for the bank and the operating
profit of a Peet’s coffee shop. Clearly, the bank determined that the potential
upside of these cafes justified the substantial capital investment each café

The cafes offer discounts in order to encourage patrons to
open Capital One bank accounts. For example, customers receive a 50% discount
on café purchases when they use a capital one card. Bank tellers will often
give out “free coffee tokens” to café patrons who inquire about opening a bank

The banking café was a well thought out, forward-thinking,
strategic marketing idea that has the potential to transform the in-person banking experience.