Banking Gamification: Cracking the next level

By Rajashekara V Maiya

Gamification has a strategic role to play in the digital banking era. As banks make the shift from enabling transactions to creating experiences, they can find in gamification a powerful tool to engage, educate, motivate and influence their digital customers.

As we track the progress of retail banking innovation through our joint annual study with Efma, we have noticed a definite uptick in gamification interest over the past few years. Two years ago, the percentage of banks to have actually implemented a gamification solution was in single digits. Last year, nearly a third of all respondents indicated a high level of interest in gamification. A couple of noteworthy examples of gamification from the 2013 and 2014 editions of the study come from BBVA and Rabobank respectively. The BBVA Game rewards the usage of online services with medals, badges and points that customers can use to participate in sweepstakes for real-world prizes. Rabobank has an internal gamification network for sharing knowledge and ideas across the bank. It has also employed gamification to encourage customers to complete their mortgage application documentation online as far as possible.

 Banking Gamification: Cracking the next level

Representational image: Reuters

That being said, interest in gamification was significantly lower than in mobility, big data and social. This reflects reality, which is that gamification is yet to build any meaningful traction in the global financial services industry. Though there have been several quite innovative gamification programs, the absence of any large scale initiatives suggests that the concept still lacks the momentum to become a serious trend.

The situation in India is similar. While a few banks have introduced extremely innovative applications of gamification, it is yet to become a key component of digital banking strategy. ICICI Bank has been one of the earliest innovators in this space. Over the past few years, the bank has successfully leveraged gamification to educate customers about card security, deliver information more engagingly, and they even offer a gamified and socialized deposit product that encourages goal-based saving. When ING Vysya set out to design a mobile banking app, they opted to work with a company with serious chops in gaming rather than in banking. Earlier this year, Axis Bank issued a hackathon challenge for gamified financial technology solutions that would transform the way customers engaged with their money. Even public sector banking major SBI is deploying gamification tables at its new fully-automated digital branches to help customers plan their investments.

These examples are just indicative of the huge opportunities and benefits awaiting banks that invest early in gamification.

Consider the decision RBI took last year to open up fully functional banking, including Internet banking, ATM/debit cards and cheque facilities, to 10-year-olds. There are two broad reasons why gamification will be an indispensable tool for banks looking to engage effectively with this new demographic. Game thinking and game mechanics will be critical for ensuring that the banking experience fits in with the kids’ expectations. But more importantly, gamification also allows banks to educate these young customers about the fundamentals of banking and financial management.

Gamification can also play a critical role throughout the customer management lifecycle.  As customers evolve through various financial life stages, banks can tap into the power of gamification to nudge them towards new goals, like an automobile or home purchase.

Actually, gamification offers a host of innovative applications to banking and every other industry. Digital customers expect their banking interactions to be as fulfilling and rewarding as their shopping experiences. In a country where two-thirds of the population is below the age of 30, gamification is a phenomenon that is just waiting to happen.

But there are two things that have to change before gamification can evolve into a more mainstream business practice. First, the regulatory bodies have to bring more clarity regarding the application of gamification in banking. Second, banks will have to take a more enterprise-centric view and focus on strategically integrating gamification principles and mechanics into every critical employee-and customer-facing application. The growth of “gamification as a service” platforms can also help accelerate adoption by eliminating the complexities of producing gamification programs at scale.

Thus far, the banking sector has been understandably restrained in its approach. But I believe that it is time to shift gears. More banks need to start experimenting with this powerful concept. And banks that have already explored the possibilities of gamification within their own context should now look at scaling its functionality across the enterprise.

(The author is associate vice president & head – product strategy & pre-sales at Infosys Finacle)

Updated Date: Nov 06, 2015 17:56:15 IST