Whatever happened to gamification in banking?

In 2013, Forbes published the article, Are Millennials The Lost Retirement Generation? which painted a chilling picture of the millennial’s “doomed” financial future. It discussed growing concerns abouCn we make saving fun with gamification?t retirement and savings accounts for this generation who “came of age during huge market downturns, who are burdened (if not crippled) by student loan debt, and who — worst of all — feel too young to even worry about retirement in the first place.” In the article, a certified financial planner targeted the root of the problem as a lack of awareness about how much money they’ll need in later years and the need to save now. That’s where financial institutions have an opportunity to break new ground to educate younger consumers and attract their business early on. But how?

Back at Finovate Fall 2014 several presenters showed how emerging technologies –banking games– were delivering innovative solutions to help newer generations learn about the importance of savings. These gamification technologies aimed to address an untapped market for engaging customers at a younger age.

Youthful approaches to gamification in banking

In the past, the Beyond the Arc blog has profiled two interesting fintech companies focused on gamification:

SAS Games created the TiViTz® College $avings Game-a-thon, which leverages their award-winning math and strategy game to help young audiences earn money for college. Kids can set up a gaming profile and link it to their existing college savings account, or create a savings account with TiViTz partner, TrustEgg. They can ask family and friends to pledge them, and then play educational games to reach their pledge goals. Pledgers receive a notice on their smartphone and can make a payment directly to the college child’s savings account.

Banks can sponsor this game, and in return, introduce children- as young as six years old- to their financial services. By earning a place in their childhood memories, the bank can hopefully be seen as a go-to resource for their financial needs as they grow into adulthood. This idea brings customer experience strategy to a whole new level.

As children grow up in the digital age, it may become increasingly rare for their parents to physically hand them cash to meet their needs. More often, their parents might say, “I’ll transfefamdoo1r you $10 for lunch.” FamDoo transforms a parent’s typical money transfer into a “modern allowance” that works like a rewards program.

Using a mobile app, parents can create activities for their children, such as “send thank you cards” or “take out the trash.” After completing a task, the parent can review it and decide whether or not to give them reward points. As kids earn points, they can spend them on gift cards and music downloads, or even make donations to charity.

Banks can become loyalty partners, and in return create their own rewards program specific to their business. For example, money spent on the bank’s credit card can become a rewards program for earning double FamDoo points. In this way, financial institutions have an opportunity to build customer loyalty as part of a child’s daily household routine.

Slow going

Despite the early promise of gamification as a way to shake up banking, two years later and there still hasn’t been a whole lot of shaking going on.

This doesn’t mean that using elements from games to engage young people is the wrong approach. Although perhaps it does signal that the right application of gamification has yet to emerge.  FamDoo has seemingly declared victory with its 25,000 user beta and has now gone quiet. Tivitz is still in the market, but with a heightened focus on their learning game as a school fundraising tool.

Earning brand loyalty early on

Brand loyalty starts with exceptional customer experiences –at any age. Financial institutions certainly have a role to play in helping young people on the path to a more secure financial future. Instilling children with strong financial values can help them better prepare to save for college to avoid student loan debts and learn the importance of building good credit to increase their opportunities. Consumer financial education is a socially responsible way to create relationships that could last a lifetime. No surprise, making this fun and engaging is just a little harder than it looks.

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