"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
January 19, 2008

Which Bank? The Liminal Bank

Umpqua is a US bank that seems to have cottoned onto the whole idea of marketing through proximate community spaces, or what are called “third places.” As Johnny Laird (thanks for the link) writes, “Umpqua appear to have jumped enthusiastically into the Third Place idea, which also drives businesses like Starbucks and the whole slew […]

Umpqua is a US bank that seems to have cottoned onto the whole idea of marketing through proximate community spaces, or what are called “third places.” As Johnny Laird (thanks for the link) writes,

“Umpqua appear to have jumped enthusiastically into the Third Place idea, which also drives businesses like Starbucks and the whole slew of coffeehouses ‚Äì small and large ‚Äì that populate the street corners of much of the Western world. It reminds me again how important community is to people, and how ministries like The Freeway and Q Caf?© really get that concept.”

All I can say is, about time! I’m a HSBC super-premium-death-star customer (or whatever they call it) and everytime I go into a branch, it still feels like I’m being sold a used car.

I suspect that Umpqua’s approach works, beyond the obvious cool factor, because they’ve cottoned onto an obvious (in retrospect) consumer insight: Banking is related to other social activities, like shopping, socialising and doing business. If we engage in those things, the bank makes more money. But, let’s be honest here, how many times do our banks made it harder, not easier, for us to do enageg in those three activities?!?

And, while we are on the subject – how often does our way of doing church get in the way of why we do church?

[tags] Umpqua, Third Place [/tags]

Responses
Paul 15 years ago

i’m not sure what you were thinking about with your Q at the end? I’m interested in the idea that really 3rd spaces aren’t really neautral venues, just something to be aware of in thinking about church in such spaces – they have their own admission price, pretty steep last time i popped into starbucks for a gingerbread latte. But i guess that’s fine as long as we’re aware that there is no neutral space, outside of star trek anyway 😉

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Neutral third spaces? Aren’t they called “parks?”

There’s a line of thought I hear/read from some church thinkers that third spaces are neutral, which strikes me as naive tosh. What’s *really* interesting about them is that they are anything but neutral.

I threw that “little” question about church in as a provocation of sorts. Maybe church isn’t at all like a third space, but some folks are kinda thinking it could be.

Toni 15 years ago

What a strange way of considering banking.

I want a bank to help me handle my money with the minimum fuss, and to interface with me through humans like any other shop. And a shop is ALL a bank is to me. There are some strong and compelling reasons why banking should be done face to face, but it isn’t appropriate to make it a place of social interaction. Moderate formality is actually a distinct advantage.

I just want a service. Not sofas, coffee and danish and strategically placed pot plants. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

Paul 15 years ago

maybe church is the orginal third space – outside the pollis and the family? A new family and a new kingdom/city with a family and city/country?

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Toni, I agree that professionalism is important for a bank and some level of formality will help that – up to a point. However, I’m not sure that modelling a bank on a police station, or old style airport check-in is a help in that regard. Why can’t a bank be more like a library? That makes sense to me.

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Paul – it makes clear sense to imagine that church should be *the* third place. But, how often is it that?

Unless the church’s doors are “open” (physically and symbollically) seven days a week – then it’s hardly a third place.

Toni 15 years ago

Fern – I guess I ‘see’ money as dirty or connected with dirtiness: something I prefer to deal with at arms length, quickly and without involvement. It’s a bit like buying condoms, where I wouldn’t want to discuss the use, techniques, methods varieties etc with the girl behind the counter. This may be a form of self-protection, that keeps me from becoming caught up in the whole finances and accumulation thing.

Please note that I’m not passing comment about anyone else’s use of money, and I don’t think condoms are dirty.

As far as being like a library goes, banks have become MUCH more like that round here in the last couple of years. They USED to have that airport feel, and before that more like a courtroom (Lloyds in South Norwood didn’t allow small children in the early 60s – so my parents made me understand).

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