> It's an unusual place to open bakery but Italy's top pastry chef is banking on this new store opened in an Italian bank branch to set up a trend. Customers of the Intesa Sanpaolo branch in Milan will now get to buy Iginio Massari's delicate pastries and rich fruit tarts.
As they wait to sort their finances. The bank's partnership with Massari is part of a 500 million Euro or $618 million push to turn its branches into modern-day piazzas. And it's not alone. Last September Lloyds Bank in the UK opened this million pound branch in the city of Manchester, that's 4 million US dollars.
Where cakes and coffee go hand-in-hand with cash points and meeting rooms. The banking group says it's considering further flagship branches across the country. Traditional banking is facing fierce competition. In the EU around 50,000 branches of shut up shop in the last decade. As customers embrace electronic payments and digital banking.
And with interest rates at rock bottom, banks have been slashing costly brick and mortar to save costs. But as branches struggle to compete with modern banking, those that do survive are looking at ways to appeal to a new generation. And they're hoping the lure of free Wi-Fi and tasty treats could do just that.