As Brett King said, banking is no longer somewhere you go but something you do. Over the past decade or so, the banking industry made a tremendous shift from financial services as services to financial services as experiences.
The modern customer is an experiential omnivore and constantly seeks for a better experience. But let’s admit it, banking was never the sexiest experience until agile financial technology companies came into the picture to offer a whole new way to turn bill payments (and other services) into a smooth and seamless, almost one-click process. After some time, we got used to it as well and are looking for the next level, which gamification can very well become.
Gamification is not a brand-new idea in banking. Loyalty programs, earning bonuses and points is also kind of gamification. The idea of gamification is to bring the elements, design and principles of a game into non-game environments in order to engage, educate and bond with customers. In addition to increasing engagement, establishing loyalty and improving financial literacy, gamification is believed to be one of the ways of painless and cost-effective transition to intensified usage of digital channels instead of physical. As a result, banks can significantly reduce operational/processing costs.
Given that some estimates suggest that 70% of young people playing a game from time to time and 80% of them expecting their workplace to be ‘social’ and ‘fun,’ appropriate and sophisticated application of gamification has a great potential to improve relationships between banks and customers.
As Yvonne Dunn from law firm Pinsent Masons, recently commented on the application of gamification in financial services, "Banks can look to the buzz that has surrounded fitness technology for encouragement in relation to how to gamify the customer experience. Fitness technology has allowed people to measure things like how many steps they take, how much sleep they are getting and how they exercise and is used by many as a motivational tool to get healthier or improve performance.
“These concepts translate into the financial services world. For example, banks gamify the customer-facing tools to enhance customers' understanding of their own financial health and allow them to monitor progress towards personalized savings targets, among other examples. Gamification could also be used as an educational tool to inform people about financial products, and therefore go some way to meeting regulatory compliance obligations on things like risk disclosures."
Who brings gamification to banking?
Among the interesting examples of banks that applied gamification in their services is Robobank, which brought fun into the not-so-fun mortgage application process through Rabobank Mortgage File. The bank decided to divide all the steps the client has to go through into a number of sub-topics, such as ‘income’, ‘mortgage type’ and ‘interest’. Each segment was given its own icon and as soon as the client completes one segment, a ‘tick’ appears beside it and the next icon is activated.
ICICI is another interesting case with an array of games aimed to improve financial literacy in areas like depositing, savings, money management, and others. Through its ICICI Bank Games platform, the bank provides information about its various products and services in a fun and interactive way. The platform indicates a leaderboard with names of the players that have earned the most points.
Barclays recently announced the launch of its Launchpad Business Challenge to bring together bright entrepreneurs to answer the question: How would you use gamification to enhance the mobile and online banking experience for our customers? The bank is exposing sandbox banking APIs and a sandbox mobile banking app and asking participants to “challenge what’s possible.” The Launchpad will allow Barclays customers to try out and give feedback on new features and ideas developed by startups. Given that the bank has 16 million customers worldwide out of which 5 million use mobile banking apps, the challenge has a strong appeal for startups.
There have certainly been more examples of gamification of banking services over the past years, and it triggered the growth of such service providers that allow banks to seamlessly integrate games into their products. Gamification-as-a-Service, if you may call it so, has its leaders and interesting companies. Among them are SaveUp, SmartyPig, AchieveMint, GameEffective, Mindspace, Bobber Interactive and others. These companies enable banks to efficiently deploy gamified solutions easily into their online channels.
The Global Marketing Lead at Infosys Finacle, noted, “Multi-tenant, multi-application gamification platforms can not only eliminate some of the capital investment and implementation challenges of large-scale deployment but also help reduce the complexities that many banks currently face when it comes to “productionizing” their gamification programs. The “platform as a service” model allows banks to quickly configure gamification principles and structures and deliver them across operating systems, devices and form factors while ensuring a consistent and unified experience for all users.”