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Nixing the normal elements of a trip to the bank—Portland, Oregon-based Umpqua has instead implemented a hi-tech, interactive and modern banking experience where art meets commerce. The 54-year-old company's been honing a unique "store" concept since CEO Ray Davis joined in 1994, and today, Umpqua's efforts have been realized in its new Innovation Lab—opened this past November.

Inspired by positive feedback from a visiting Microsoft exec who was seeking the "bank of the future," the Umpqua crew sought to create a techno-centric community hub. "Our customer experience is not technology for technology's sake," says Lani Hayward, Umpqua's EVP, creative strategies. "It is about creating some kind of interactivity that is relevant, resource-oriented and entertaining to some degree." With blueprints from TVA Architects and design by firms Ziba and Ditroen, the Innovation Lab prototype in Portland hosts a variety of technology-driven offerings via Microsoft, along with Cisco, Intel, Lenovo and Planar. Some of the Lab's features include the Cisco-sponsored "Ask an Expert," a combination of software, telephone systems and video conferencing to connect consumers with the bank's pros. There's also an i-bar for instant online access, music portals featuring work of local artists and banquettes with hidden laptops.

Umpqua's also selling its own subtly-branded merchandise and has aligned with local merchants to sell products within the store. Additionally, the bank will host independent social and business meetings, as well as hold events like Nintendo Wii tournaments. Hayward adds that Umpqua plans on updating its WiFi-enabled lab quarterly, as it is essentially an ongoing experiment. "The premise is to have a Petri dish where we can test and pull in and pull out. It's community, technology and art coming together. Oh, and banking. I forgot about that."

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