Often when I'm walking the streets of Manhattan in the late fall, searching for a warm place to cash a check, check my bank statement, and make a phat withdrawal, I find myself thinking, "Where can I do all that and take a seat on a plush leather couch, chat up a European tourist, check my email, surf the Web, and catch a Seinfeld rerun or two?"
Thankfully, now there's this: the "smart bank" from Citigroup.
According to Brad Dinsmore, Citi's head of retail banking in North America, who, along with Citi CEO Vikram Pandit, broke ground on Citigroup's first New York "smart bank" today in Union Square, "We want this branch to be more than just a bank. We want this branch to be a place where customers view it as a hub, a center of the community, if you will. A place where they feel warm and welcome, that they can come in and experience our free Wi-Fi access."
The new Citi branches, "modeled after high-tech branches in Singapore and Hong Kong," come equipped with numerous flat-screen televisions and have "the feel of a chic hotel lobby more than anything else."
If you don't live in New York, not to worry: Citi also plans to open "smart banks" in Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities.