Gamification and Money: How Online Banks Engage Consumers

Gamification and Money: How Online Banks Engage Consumers


How can online banking be more like a game?

Most banks that offer online banking do not think of banking as a game. Banks care about how much money you have in your account. But consumers think about how much money they can spend (something banks tend to ignore).

Banks tend to miss out on the benefits of gamification because they do not realize that consumers want to feel like they are in control of what they spend. Furthermore, banks tend not to worry about consumer engagement because what consumers do with their money is not a concept banks have leveraged with gamification.

But what if banks made banking more like a game? When spending and saving money resembles a game, it has the potential to flip roles. The consumer takes control of what is in their bank account. Not the bank.

How Simple is Changing the Way Consumers Think About Money

Simple is an online bank that has capitalized on a not-so-obvious gamification strategy. This online bank start-up helps consumers save money by treating banking as if it is a game. To open a Simple account, customers must already have an existing bank account. Once consumers deposit money into the Simple account, however, things change. While Simple offers popular features like paper checks, withdrawing money from an ATM, and sending money to friends via e-mail, the company has underwritten Simple’s design with a simple gamification strategy to encourage consumer engagement.

Simple’s Gamification Strategy

Simple makes banking like a game with its “Safe to Spend” feature. While most banks show consumers their available balance, the “Safe to Spend” balance is how much money you can spend without cutting into expenses that you have portioned off for other things like rent, food, and bills. As Andre Behrens wrote in his review of the company, “Simple makes hiding money the key to its whole approach.” The point of the game is to keep your “Safe to Spend” balance in the green. By playing the game, consumer end up saving money.

Simple is just one example of a gamification program to help consumers engage with online banking platforms. As the millenial generation is projected to surpass the Baby Boomers, opportunities are abound for banks to rethink their approach in courting this largely untapped market group. It will be exciting to see how the meshing of gamification and money will help people rethink their perspective on financial management.


Image credits: CC source


Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.