Capital One is trying to curry favor with millennials with cafés around the US offering free Wi-Fi, local coffee and food, and complimentary money coaching

Capital One Cafe 9Capital One Cafés are popping up all over the country.Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

The more than 80 million people born into the millennial generation have grown up with technology by their side.

It should come as no surprise, then, that this generation — now the largest share of the US workforce — is turning to technology to manage their money, a generational shift that poses problems for the traditional bank model.

Millennials largely reject the banking experience their parents and grandparents embraced. They've abandoned the relationship-based, retail branch experience in favor of online banking. They largely distrust traditional banks, opening the door for a rash of disruptive fintech startups. Nearly 75% say they'd be more excited by a financial offering from Google, Apple, PayPal, or Square over their nationwide bank, according to a survey by Scratch, a subsidiary of Viacom.

Capital One's latest venture, the Capital One Café, is a new effort to market to millennials that appears aimed at bridging this disconnect — a move to win over their hard-won loyalty and lay a new foundation for relationship-based banking.

The company is opening a string of cafés in some of the nation's largest cities that function as co-working spaces open to the public. Anyone, regardless of bank affiliation, can grab a cup of coffee, sit on a couch, and, if they want, get coached through their money problems by professionals — for free.

Business Insider recently visited a café in Glendale, California, and spoke with Capital One Senior Vice President Lia Dean, who leads the café expansion team, about the bank's strategy for appealing to millennials.

Check out the tour below:

The café we visited is located at an upscale outdoor mall in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb. The center is anchored by Bloomingdale's and Barney's New York. Luxury apartments sit atop the café, where rents run between $3,900 and $5,000 a month.

The café we visited is located at an upscale outdoor mall in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb. The center is anchored by Bloomingdale's and Barney's New York. Luxury apartments sit atop the café, where rents run between $3,900 and $5,000 a month.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

The Glendale location — which opened about a month ago — is one of four Capital One Cafés in California. By way of a 54-foot trailer truck decked out with digital banking technology, bank staffers are traveling to a series of grand openings in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Austin, and Richmond over the next two months.

The Glendale location — which opened about a month ago — is one of four Capital One Cafés in California. By way of a 54-foot trailer truck decked out with digital banking technology, bank staffers are traveling to a series of grand openings in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Austin, and Richmond over the next two months.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

Though Capital One is using the cafés to shed its corporate image in the face of a younger generation, it's hanging on to a few traditional conveniences. Two ATM machines available for public use are situated near the main entrance. There's another set at the back of the café with more privacy.

Though Capital One is using the cafés to shed its corporate image in the face of a younger generation, it's hanging on to a few traditional conveniences. Two ATM machines available for public use are situated near the main entrance. There's another set at the back of the café with more privacy.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

Capital One partnered with Peet's Coffee, a Bay-Area coffee roaster and retailer, to provide beverages and snacks for purchase in each café.

Capital One partnered with Peet's Coffee, a Bay-Area coffee roaster and retailer, to provide beverages and snacks for purchase in each café.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

All pastries are supplied by local bakeries — a nod to millennials' penchant for supporting local businesses in their community, says Dean.

All pastries are supplied by local bakeries — a nod to millennials' penchant for supporting local businesses in their community, says Dean.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

Though you don't have to be a Capital One cardholder to hang out in the café and co-working space, your card will get you 50% off any drink purchase.

Though you don't have to be a Capital One cardholder to hang out in the café and co-working space, your card will get you 50% off any drink purchase.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

The cafés are meant to connect financial professionals and young people in a "relaxed" and "stress-free" environment, Dean said. "Customers are over the corporate thing," she added, saying that she hopes "people stumble in and discover us."

The cafés are meant to connect financial professionals and young people in a "relaxed" and "stress-free" environment, Dean said. "Customers are over the corporate thing," she added, saying that she hopes "people stumble in and discover us."
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

With the coffee counter off to the side, the split-level space is open, airy, and lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, letting plenty of California sunshine in. But perhaps most importantly, there's free Wi-Fi.

With the coffee counter off to the side, the split-level space is open, airy, and lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, letting plenty of California sunshine in. But perhaps most importantly, there's free Wi-Fi.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

Dean said the space was designed with Rockwell Group, an award-winning global architecture firm that's known, among other things, for the design of several W Hotel locations around the world.

Dean said the space was designed with Rockwell Group, an award-winning global architecture firm that's known, among other things, for the design of several W Hotel locations around the world.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

Indeed, it feels more like a co-working space than a bank or financial center. There are plenty of device charging stations, and comfy seating, to encourage an extended stay.

Indeed, it feels more like a co-working space than a bank or financial center. There are plenty of device charging stations, and comfy seating, to encourage an extended stay.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

There's a notable display of consumer-facing tech scattered throughout the space, a clear effort to connect with digital-first millennials.

There's a notable display of consumer-facing tech scattered throughout the space, a clear effort to connect with digital-first millennials.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

This is the "demo bar," which wasn't up and running during our visit. Eventually, there will be a few Amazon Alexa devices set up to answer money questions. Dean says Capital One was the first financial services company to develop a "skill" for the Amazon Alexa, and says she's capable of answering questions like, "How much did I spend at Whole Foods?" and "How much is my next mortgage payment?" and responds to commands like, "Pay my credit card bill."

This is the "demo bar," which wasn't up and running during our visit. Eventually, there will be a few Amazon Alexa devices set up to answer money questions. Dean says Capital One was the first financial services company to develop a "skill" for the Amazon Alexa, and says she's capable of answering questions like, "How much did I spend at Whole Foods?" and "How much is my next mortgage payment?" and responds to commands like, "Pay my credit card bill."
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

Other tech offerings include iPads throughout the café that invite customers to click through short finance lessons or take a quiz to test their money knowledge — no log-in or sign-up required.

Other tech offerings include iPads throughout the café that invite customers to click through short finance lessons or take a quiz to test their money knowledge — no log-in or sign-up required.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

For instance, there's a cool feature for managing student loan debt. You enter how much you're paying off, what your interest rate is, and how much you plan to pay each month.

For instance, there's a cool feature for managing student loan debt. You enter how much you're paying off, what your interest rate is, and how much you plan to pay each month.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

On the next screen you can adjust your monthly payment on a sliding scale to see how much money and time you could save. Dean says the cafés aren't geared toward generating sales, but rather are part of Capital One's investment in financial education.

On the next screen you can adjust your monthly payment on a sliding scale to see how much money and time you could save. Dean says the cafés aren't geared toward generating sales, but rather are part of Capital One's investment in financial education.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

At the back of the café, there's a large table and interactive screen set up for complimentary money coaching sessions. Financial experts — many of them certified life coaches — teach 20-minute sessions throughout the day and host a few 1-2 hour workshops every month, covering topics like wedding financing and how to talk to your spouse about money. The aim is to "take the taboo out of money topics," says Dean.

At the back of the café, there's a large table and interactive screen set up for complimentary money coaching sessions. Financial experts — many of them certified life coaches — teach 20-minute sessions throughout the day and host a few 1-2 hour workshops every month, covering topics like wedding financing and how to talk to your spouse about money. The aim is to "take the taboo out of money topics," says Dean.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

Small, closed nooks are also available for private conversations with a money coach. And there's a larger conference room that seats about 10 people, which can be reserved online, free of charge, by local businesses and non-profits.

Small, closed nooks are also available for private conversations with a money coach. And there's a larger conference room that seats about 10 people, which can be reserved online, free of charge, by local businesses and non-profits.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

The space is staffed by Capital One "ambassadors." While not financial planners or bankers, they're trained to assist customers with basic banking needs like setting up a Capital One account, paying their bills online, and applying for a credit card.

The space is staffed by Capital One "ambassadors." While not financial planners or bankers, they're trained to assist customers with basic banking needs like setting up a Capital One account, paying their bills online, and applying for a credit card.
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

With a string of cafés opening across the country, Capital One is testing out a new way of marketing to millennials. By scratching the sales pitch and instead offering valuable perks like free Wi-Fi, a nice co-working space, local coffee and food, and complimentary money coaching, they may have young professionals who aren't already with the bank asking, "Why not sign up?"

With a string of cafés opening across the country, Capital One is testing out a new way of marketing to millennials. By scratching the sales pitch and instead offering valuable perks like free Wi-Fi, a nice co-working space, local coffee and food, and complimentary money coaching, they may have young professionals who aren't already with the bank asking, "Why not sign up?"
Tanza Loudenback/Business Insider

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