Bank branch for women dubbed the Barbie Bank by critics

Bank branch for women dubbed the Barbie Bank by critics

A move by Costa Rica's state bank to set up bank branches exclusively for women has backfired spectacularly, with critics dubbing the pink-bedecked outlets the 'Barbie Bank' for reinforcing gender stereotypes.

The first five Banca Kristal branches, staffed by women, opened for business Monday and represent a $10 million investment in the concept by the bank.

Each Kristal branch includes dedicated areas for breastfeeding and children’s play and comes equipped with a range of self-service touch screens. Products on offer are intended to appeal to female customers, with special sections dedicated to the home, beauty, motherhood, fashion, health and education.

The opening of the new branches has provoked a vehement response on social media, with critics particularly incensed by the deployment of a fairytale 'princess castle' at one branch to promote the brand.

The critical reaction is not confined solely to the social media community, with female politicians also sticking the boot in Speaking to La Nacion, Costa Rica vice president Ana Helena Chacon, commented: “I approve of all affirmative action that promotes women … the decor of the place is an issue that highlights stereotypes that must be overcome."

Monica Segnini, a BCR VP felt moved to offer an apology on Facebook to women who were offended by the launch.

Speaking to Costa Rica News, corporate relations manager Kattia Morales, defended the concept: “It is natural that the public react in this way, because it is a product that is not yet known and with which they are familiar.”

Comments: (3)

Hitesh Thakkar
Hitesh Thakkar - SME - Fintech startups (APAC and Africa) - India 02 December, 2015, 11:49Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

In India, Women's bank was started in 2013 (Bhartiya Mahilla Bank - BMB - It's operated by Womens and operates for women's welfare.

There is nothing wrong in creating such specialised branches ofcourse it need to be done with consideration as business case with benefits reflecting in top and bottom line of balance sheet over tenure.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 03 December, 2015, 01:531 like 1 like

Perhaps genderfication of branches is one way to increase traffic (sales leads). I for one would truly enjoy visiting a pub branch for men, with a large sporting section and big leather couches for which to enjoy a fine cigar whilst my banker and I discuss whatever it is he wishes to sell me. 

A branch like this would be the perfect hiding spot for men who are compelled (on occassion) to hide from their lovely wives.  What wife would suspect, "Darling, I'm going to the bank," as their husband's means of escape.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 03 December, 2015, 09:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Well deserved backlash. When India did a similar thing with Bhartiya Mahilla Bank, they expected that women will feel more comfortable visiting a women-only bank. Alas, it was not to be. According to a tiny article in the Economic Times last week, BMB was shut down and its assets quietly absorbed into SBI, India's largest bank.