AIB has opened a high-tech concept branch in Dublin aimed at developing its customers’ use of online services. ‘The Lab’ (Learn About Banking) branch provides visitors with traditional banking services and is equipped with consumer-friendly technology such as iPads and iMacs and wireless internet, reports Douglas Blakey

Allied Irish Banks (AIB), the second-largest bank in Ireland, has opened the doors of its first concept store in Dublin.

The branch was designed by UK-headquartered design consultancy allen international for AIB in partnership with Accenture. It aims to provide a learning and research environment focused on helping customers get the most from AIB’s current and next generation banking services.

The Lab (Learn About Banking) will bring AIB’s leading-edge technologies together in a physical hub to showcase, test and introduce customers to the best digital banking experience in Ireland.

Situated in Dundrum Town Centre, the highest footfall retail location in Ireland, the store is designed to deliver an innovative and compelling experience through digital self-service capabilities, remote advisor accessibility, mobile device demonstration and digital ‘avatar’ that navigates customers through the experience.

As well as having access to AIB products visitors have free use of iPads, iMacs and WiFi in a unique banking environment that is unlike any other currently on offer in Ireland.

At the heart of the design is a desire to ensure that customers can interact with AIB in the way that suits them best.
The zones at a glance:

The Quick Banking Zone: a stepped arrangement of cash multi-functional ATMs for added privacy provide simple, secure and easy to use self-service banking facilities on entering the branch.
Conveniently located card kiosks for managing personal finance in store and an acoustic phone booth for private conversations and a social media wall are other features that highlight the benefits of speed, convenience banking and the ways AIB is in contact with its customers via social media.

The Mobile Banking Zone: a contemporary mobile banking table with state-of -the-art interactive screens and devices provides a showcase of the mobile banking services AIB provide for their customers.
The private internet banking booth where customers can check their accounts or be trained in the use of internet banking, relaxed positions to enroll for the services using a more domestic feel to the use of technology are all devices used to entice customers to learn more about mobile and internet banking with AIB .

The Product Zone: provide a relaxed and contemporary way of showcasing all AIB’s products, services and new technological innovations. The Product Zone highlights the brand’s associations and partnerships with other world leading & technologically advanced brands.

An iconic interactive digital product table and Emerging Technology Zone with changing exhibitions and demos makes browsing convenient and easy. A contemporary feature staircase and a convenient lift provides access to the upper floor.

The Lounge & Learning Zone: A hospitable lounge to relax and browse with convenient access to financial experts in the comfort of private booths. A space to come and learn, participate and be entertained by various events even with its own children play area. The large format digital learning wall, an interactive source where customers can learn about the brand, the store and all its facilities.
The Business Banking Zone – Located on the upper floor this is a designated zone for AIB Business customers. A space that can be used for networking and customers’ own business meetings. Meeting rooms provide remote financial specialist consultation and video conferencing facilities.

A relaxed lounge complete with personal i-pads to browse are available completing AIB’s commitment to specialised financial services and facilities for its Business Banking customers. AIB’s Vision for The Lab is to deliver an innovative and compelling customer experience embodying the AIB brand values – Dependable, Engaging and Pioneering.

The unique space and complete customer journey developed by allen international deliver a showcase for the brand whilst pushing the boundaries both in terms of its interior architecture and digital innovation.

Bernard Byrne – director of personal, business and corporate banking at AIB says: "Almost half our customers have yet to embrace digital banking".

"AIB’s investment in digital technology is a cornerstone in the bank’s strategy to reduce cost."

‘Richard Benson – allen international design director, tells RBI: "We’re sure the store we’ve developed with AIB will challenge peoples pre-conceptions of what a financial retail space is.

"It will inform and educate customers on the most convenient ways to carry out their daily banking, but also showcase and deliver the brands products and services in an engaging, easy to understand format. It has never been about utilising technology for technologies sake, but rather integrating the latest most appropriate digital technology to deliver the vision for the store.

"Together with AIB we have created a space that will cater for many different customer journeys and needs whilst delivering a total customer experience.

"It will enable the bank to trial and refine the latest technologies for integration to their branch network in the future.

"The project has given ai the opportunity to not only be progressive in terms of the technology incorporated, but also the interior architecture, aesthetics and ultimately ambience we have created for the store.

"This has been a very exciting and rewarding project and a privilege for the team at allen international to work upon.