Opportunities for Game Design Within Retail Banking

Where are the opportunities?

In a world full of noise, attention is the scarcest commodity. Whilst most of the stories enterprises are trying to tell, we all love to play, being born to be engaged. Game design humanises the interaction and allows banks, agencies and utility providers to get above the noise and create connection.

Customer success in banking is as with many things in life, predicated not on goals but on habit building. As we build great habits, we get stronger, overcome challenges, build skills and level up.

Apple, Strava, Fitbit and Garmin all get this with their physical fitness apps that get people to keep an eye on the little things ahead of them.


Financial Fitness occurs across four categories: earning, spending, lending, saving and investing. On top of these there are loyalty moments, levels of relationship that banks have been eager to achieve but are poor in being transparent about and encouraging customers to engage in. Each of these presents opportunities of stacking habits, improving hygiene, paying attention, winning, and leveling up, when we adopt a game mindset.

Here are a few from our discussions, engagements and thinking. All of these and more can be delivered by plugging the GameSystem into the digital fabric of the bank, consumed as a cloud service.


Money starts with income. How we grow this critical input has a huge impact on financial fitness. When the bank operates as the Main Financial Institution it is very well positioned to identify the change in input (deposits) and begin mapping this effort by customer. As with many inputs this can be compared to previous month, 6 month or 12 month moving averages. As customers win there are multiple opportunities for nudges, celebration and reward as the bank celebrates the big moments like pay rises, bonuses and grants.


There are many cognitive biases that drive customers to spend beyond life’s essentials, making themselves feel good and deferring long term financial prosperity. These include self-serving bias as well as present bias. There are numerous opportunities here. We can identify changes to the spending habits for the positive and the negative and light these up within the customer experience. We can notice and reward streaks, issue “Spending Challenges” that reward the months best belt tighteners and we can provide customers the opportunity to unlock “Sweep Ups”, sweeping the “Money Less Spent” into Savings Accounts. At the heart of this idea is not to set absolute spending targets like most other applications telling people how much they spent at Starbucks last month or applying triggers broadly across the customer base. Building personalised journeys means understanding individual personal progress and habits and helping customers be aware of and then tune these. We suggest providing both individual and social relativity to progress, as customers level up and get in control of their money in a way that is personalised to them. Again, these event driven nudges are aimed at overcoming some of our inherent biases against making real progress and feeling supported along the way. “Spending is down three months running – great work! Lets sweep that to savings today!”


Banks spend an enormous amount of money in customer acquisition. In the crowded mortgage market, this can exceed $1000. Yet post sales, there is extraordinarily little effort applied to stay connected , provide support and engage around the challenge at hand. Sometimes this is deliberate, yet often it is just forgotten about in the relentless pursuit of revenue. There are many opportunities to celebrate moments during the lending cycle, perhaps none so poorly missed as the day the customer pays off their loan. Disappointed that the moment means an end to the relationship, banks routinely send discharge notices and an NPS survey. Credit Card debt is a form of lending and one of the greatest sources of financial stress. In Moroku’s vision, banks first celebrate the great success of the customer, with a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for completing the challenge and stacking the right habits. Perhaps they were slow, perhaps they were fast. Perhaps they repaid regularly on time and in full. Perhaps they achieved milestones. Perhaps they got lost. Perhaps they did it with friends. Banks have all the data. There is a great opportunity to drive this through a game engine and have some fun.

Saving and Investing

In effect the savings and investing opportunities are the mirror opposite of lending. Holiday debt is a massive issue around the world. Whilst a little harder to determine the absolute goals, great savings habits are well understood and require discipline to overcome the need for instant gratification and retail therapy. It’s tough and lonely work, work that can and should be recognised by banks, to build empathy and intimacy with customers.


There are very many things that banks would like customers to do; Stay with them for a long time, open many accounts, take ancillary products, visit regularly, deposit lots of money as a source of funding for the bank, introduce friends and family, take out larger loans and so on. Sometimes these behaviours relate to products and transactions and sometimes they refer to other aspects of the relationship. Whilst credit card loyalty programs have become common place and successful at getting people to spend more, very few banks have gone to the next level, using game design to recognise and make clear to their customers how they value relationships. Birthdays, anniversaries, rhythm and routines present more opportunities. One of the principles of game design is that there are clear rules, goals and levels with reward and recognition. There are multiple intrinsic rewards that can be applied during the customer journey to be clear about these to drive engagement and build relationships.

SME Payments

In the space of a few short years the world of payments has changed forever. Mobile, NFC, Cloud and Crypto currencies are among the leading advances that have threatened the lives of proprietary hardware technologies, paper money and anything at the consumer end of the value chain that isn’t facilitated by mobile. Particularly opportune are market segments whose development has lagged economically or technologically or those that are price sensitive. This includes developing world currency systems that are subject to high levels of volatility and small business. These segments are sizeable. SMEs are seen as the main actors of both national and regional development in many countries. In developed markets, small businesses contribute a large proportion of the overall GDP and an overwhelming proportion of the growth. In Canada, small businesses employed over 7.7 million people, 69.7% of the total work force and between 25 and 41% of the GDP. SME‘s and informal enterprises, account for over 60% of GDP and over 70% of total employment in low-income countries, while they contribute over 95% of total employment and about 70% of GDP in middle-income countries.

Soft mPOS platforms architected through game, to encourage, reward , inspire and grow these enterprises is a powerful, transformative idea, well positioned to step into these traditionally cash heavy segments. Expensive, clunky old-world technologies are wide open to replacement by inexpensive, slick, cloud and mobile based systems,. As this catch up occurs, security will improve dramatically and enable businesses across the world to take payments, reduce cash management costs and grow their businesses by knowing and serving their customers better. This is a great opportunity for banks and governments to leverage their account management and payment infrastructure capabilities and increase their value.

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