It's possible to make retail banking hip and cool, and a Vietnamese start-up called Timo is out to prove this with a latte.
Timo stands for "time is money." It's a digital bank with no paperwork, no queues and no branches – sort of. Its only physical presence is a modern cafe in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City called the "Timo Hangout."
Here's how it works: Customers walk into this café and hear the espresso machines humming. They can choose to sit and surf the internet or they can agree to listen to a soft sales pitch as they sip their free cup of coffee.
In what aims to be a relaxed setting, a Timo staff member uses an iPad to explain the digital bank's products, such as its spending account, a "goal save" account or term deposits. Timo opens new accounts with zero deposit and offers an app customers can use to track their transactions.
Timo co-founder and chief executive Claude Spiese explains " We don't talk product, we don't talk interest rates. We talk about lifestyle. We talk about people having fun."