Why so serious? – Gamification trends in the banking industry

As pointed out in many articles gamification is a trend that started creeping into every aspect of our lives. You can lose weight, do shopping or just plainly play online games that encourages you to continue engagement by using game mechanics. But also gamification is more and more adopted by businesses. In the most cases this is to strengthen brand loyalty and improve customer engagement. But why should gamification be a good idea particularly for the finance industry? Because people hate banking. Most people don’t have a warm feeling in their heart when they think of managing their finances. To most of us it is a boring and unloved chore. Yet everyone has to do it. Given these preconditions banking activities scream for including a little more fun to become more exciting and enjoyable.

But not only bank customers could benefit from a little more fun. According to BBVA, demographic data backs up the idea of gamification being an effective means to attain a customer group that financial service providers are particularly interested in. 53% of gamers are between the ages of 18-49 and 55% play games on mobile devices, the future face of financial institutions.

Current examples of gamification applied in banks show basically two different approaches – using games to deliver financial education to customers or providing rewards and applying game psychology to increase costumer´s product and service engagement.

One example of the first category is the game 56 sage street from Barclays. In this free online game, situated in an interactive virtual city, players learn basic money management and life skills, working their way up levels by mastering life lessons and making wise financial decisions. There is also games out there just for children like the Great Piggy Bank Adventure®. This for example, is supposed to teach children the importance of wise financial planning and key financial concepts as inflation or asset allocation. Apparently something that is deemed to be very important to learn at the age of four.

An illustration for the second case is the BBVA Game. This game wants customers to create a profile and make financial operations online, watch videos or answer questions about BBVA. Doing so will gain you points that can be exchanged for online music or videos or other awards like lottery coupons to win tickets for the Spanish Football League.

Whereas these examples sound somewhat entertaining for costumers there are also critical voices raised against following the gamification trend in the finance industry. Some argue that mixing a game into business that should be taken very seriously just won´t be widely accepted by clients. Finances are a quite sensitive matter and introducing playful concepts to deal with money might undermine banks reputation of being a thoughtful and earnest partner. As the reluctance to adopt gamification concepts in Northern American banks exemplifies, this notion currently still seems to prevail in the majority of banks.

What do you as a costumer think? Would you engage in or promote educational banking games or playful quests for banking rewards? If so, which concept would you think will be most successful in the future? Or do you think that banks should waive this trend and stick to being serious because that´s what you expect from someone who is responsible for managing your finances?



5 responses to “Why so serious? – Gamification trends in the banking industry”

  1. 418482gl says :

    Great topic 🙂

    I believe that in business gamification is a particularly useful approach to promote product engagement and tweek consumer behavior. However, banking is a bit more sensitive in this topic, as it is generally accepted that “money is no game”.

    My personal opinion is that gamification for educational purposes is perfectly fine in these cases. Moreover, it is an excellent way for banks to cover CSR initiatves, strengthen customer loyalty, and perhaps even use it for recruiting purposes (e.g. BNP Paribas Ace Manager, http://acemanager.bnpparibas.com/). In this option, banks are acting as authentic sources of financial knowledge, building on their own core competencies.
    However using gamification for other reasons (e.g. changing customer behavior), I find more controversial. In my opinion, the key is to keep up the serious image of the bank in the eyes of the customer, and at the same time remain ethical in terms of informing customers of all risks and rewards incurred during their “gaming”. As an example, I would state that it is fine to reward customers for chosing to conclude a transaction through the mobile app (if this is the goal of the bank), while it would be wrong to influence the customer through rewards the if they put more money into their account or (I know that this is quite an extreme example) if they apply for a mortgage.

  2. 355781aa says :

    My opinion would be yes I will endorse gamification in the banking industry. I believe gamification is perfect method for learning and motivating employees, and thus will improve employee’s performance. Sounds too naive? I guess we do not have to complicate ourselves.

    Firstly, from what I understand, when you play a game, you really understand what is your goal and you are aware of how you can reach the goal. In this case, abstract concepts can be better explained in a gamified training or lesson, especially for in-experienced and rather new employees. Learning from mistake/failure has been undoubtedly very effective learning process. So gamification can be used so people can do as many mistake as they want in order to quickly learn something. When applying all the concepts in the real business activity, employees are still required to be more careful, however they will already be more aware of how things work. In other words, they will become well prepared faster than if are taught in normal teaching-learning style. In short, in tough industry such as finance and banking, gamification can make learning process fun and effective.

    However it is not only learning process that are affected, it can help increasing employees motivation. Not only it reduces stress as interface can be made interactively fun, it also gives employees the idea that certain goals exist so they can achieve. Gamification makes employee think they work to achieve something and not to survive (I also made a post about gamification last week and say this thing as well, please feel free to read my post). Owing to that, employees are really motivated to become good than enough (as in to survive). In addition, banking sector is mostly quantitatively measured, certain goals and requirements in game can be easily adjusted and structured so the gamified process is more sustainable and flexible for long term period.

    In short, gamification should not be avoided. The concept has potential to change the way employees learn and become motivated. Though the concrete application depends on the industry, banking sector is no exception. I think we should, instead, focus on how we can gamify finance aspect in banking industry/other industries so employee does not forget the “seriousness” and “carefulness” aspect of the industry.

    • cupcake288 says :

      I think your idea of also using gamification concepts as a tool to motivate employees instead of just engaging customers with it is quite interesting.

      However, couldn´t it be difficult especially for the finance industry to incentivize certain employee behavior by means of game psychology? Thus, abstracting more and more from the real life impact and risks a bank representative´s actions can involve? For example, the last financial crisis was triggered by derivative deals on real estate loans that were increasingly abstracted and estranged from the real economy.

      After that customers trust in the banks and their thoughtfulness had plummeted dramatically. Couldn’t it be a risk for a bank´s reputation if customers got hold of it treating their internal operations (so in the end dealing with real economy´s money) like mini games?

      Am I being too pessimistic or do you also think this could pose a problem? Or do you instead even have a counter example where gamification for employee motivation (in a bank) was successfully implemented? If not maybe you still have an idea how it could be applied without employees losing their relation to reality and thus producing a risk for customer? I am interested in your opinion.

  3. Aida Sibbett says :

    Hello. fantastic job. I did not expect this. This is a remarkable story. Thanks!

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