Keeping score with your wallet
Gamification has found its way into financial services at many levels and is used for many purposes, including encouraging savings, increasing customer engagement, and educating consumers about personal finance. But as digital—and, in particular, mobile—banking matures, fintech companies and financial institutions are beginning to employ social network features that introduce cooperative gameplay, making the gamification experience more relevant and appealing.
In cooperative gameplay, players work together and interact in real time. Playing simultaneously allows players to assist one another in many ways: passing weapons or items, healing, providing covering fire in a firefight, and performing cooperative maneuvers such as boosting a teammate up and over obstacles.
Similarly, cooperative gameplay in financial services enables individuals to share information, opinions, and outcomes; collaborate to solve financial challenges; and build both social and real-world credit.
The emergence of cooperative gameplay in financial services
Forms of cooperative gameplay in financial services have been with us for a while. For example, crowdsourced stock investing started as online bulletin boards and have since evolved into sophisticated social sites. A current incarnation is Nvest, which enables users to share their stock recommendations. Investors “follow” each other and make investments based on the measured performance of other members’ recommendations and investments. A more recent entrant is mobile app ClosingBell, which combines the Nvest model with more traditional data analysis and market information.
Social lending (not to be confused with lending marketplaces like Lending Club or crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo) also builds elements of cooperative gameplay into the borrowing-lending process. Kiva Zip, for example, uses an entrepreneur's network as a measure of creditworthiness. Borrowers invite family and friends to start their fundraising. After reaching a designated threshold, loans are offered to the broader Kiva Zip community. Online conversations between borrowers and lenders are a big part of process, with participants interacting on business plans, use of funds, and just generally encouraging entrepreneurs.
In the consumer banking realm, we see the beginnings of cooperative gameplay in mobile platforms. For example, Urban FT provides a social feed around venue discovery, ratings and reviews of venues and recent purchases, sharing information on deals and special offers—even splitting purchases based on those deals.
Applying cooperative gameplay to consumer banking in particular requires new ways of keeping score. While most of us are not comfortable sharing details of our finances with others, everyone loves a good deal, and occasionally crowing about a “score” when we make a shrewd purchase. This is a form of social proof that encourages us to think smarter about our money when interacting with peers. Privately, we are able to see the results of our decisions through personal financial management visualizations that track where we spend our money and how we are performing against personal goals.
Social interaction creates opportunities for automating ‘Personal’ recommendations
Social interaction around considered and actual purchases encourages us to share both good and bad experiences with peers. It also opens a dialog regarding finances in general. Done right, a bank can participate in the dialogue and potentially engage in an ongoing digital discussion regarding finances and bank products that benefit the individual consumer.
One method is to use spending data by category to create and automatically present targeted recommendations through the social feed in the mobile banking app. For example, a high level of auto maintenance and repair spending signals a potential car purchase and can trigger one or more car loan offers. A college saving plan might be offered to customers showing significant spending on children’s products. Similarly, offers may be presented based simply on customer demographics—age, income level, et cetera.
The benefit of using a social feed for such offers versus direct or static online marketing is manifold. First, offers presented in the context of an ongoing discussion on money matters makes them more relevant and timely. Second, participants can interact on the offers by sharing or commenting on them with others, again adding context and relevance. Finally, marketers and product managers can gain instant and direct feedback on offers based on the reaction and commentary within the feed.
Engaging customers by tapping into basic social needs
It is no accident that social networks have become integral to modern life and cooperative gameplay strengthens its effects: We desire to protect ourselves and learn from others to avoid mistakes. We seek strength in numbers and have an innate desire to work together to optimize our collective outcomes. We enjoy the social credit and esteem we earn by sharing with and helping others. And finally, we all want to keep score—even more so where our wallets are involved. As financial institutions look for ways to engage with customers in this digital era, they should consider cooperative gameplay for this ability to tap into these most basic social needs.
About the author
Glen Fossella, EVP of Enterprise Growth at Urban FT
Before joining EVP of Enterprise Growth at Urban FT, Glen was VP of Enterprise Business Development with Ingo Money, a leader in mobile payments and money movement services. Prior to the banking/payments space, he helped build and successfully exit several manufacturing and supply chain software companies, and also spent time as a venture capitalist.