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Playing games to solve a world problem

Playing games to solve a world problem

Advances in technology offer financial institutions an unprecedented opportunity to lift financial literacy by using principles underlying the gaming industry.

Developments such as virtual reality make it easy to forget that financial illiteracy remains a very real social issue.

Financial literacy is a factor in the growing social divide that is influencing our current political debate and the G20 has recognised that financial education is one of three ingredients essential for individuals’ financial empowerment and the overall stability of the financial system.

Financial education made fun and easy

As banks look for ways to help customers become better informed and empowered to manage their financial security, the gaming industry provides interesting lessons for financial institutions.

Gaming is now a US$99.6bn industry. The industry has applied advanced analytics and behavioural science to drive engagement with people responding in droves via smart devices and social networks. Can this be applied in a constructive way in the financial industry?

Popular games tend to reward players (with points, prizes or awards) for reaching milestones. Can the financial industry use Artificial Intelligence and analytics to encourage learning and better protect customers through greater levels of financial literacy and risk awareness?

Applications around the world

  • Australia: CommBank is conducting experiments with an app called Savings Challenge and Saving Jar. It allows people to set challenges for themselves to save money and to put extra money into their savings account as they make each transaction
  • India: ICICI Bank Games are being used to help educate customers on card security, for example. State Bank of India’s fully automated digital branches feature gamification tables to help customers plan investments
  • Spain: BBVA Game has been praised for creating a virtual economy based on a points system. Customers are encouraged to use online banking in exchange for prizes including music downloads and football match tickets.

Gamification could also encourage planning for retirement by helping people understand the risks and rewards of managing their superannuation balances. Simulations of their nest egg 40 years into the future, perhaps using augmented reality, could help people understand the nature of investing.

Regulators on board

The low level of financial literacy is leading regulators to look for new ways to improve consumer outcomes.

Could banks make their customers’ savings goals and financial well-being as understandable and engaging as physical fitness? At CommBank we are investing in this area by experimenting with apps such as Savings Challenge and by working with behavioural economists at Harvard University to better understand how people make decisions so we can develop products to help people save and pay down debt.

James Wall
Executive General Manager, International


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