In banking, gamification is a win

When it comes to banking, user experience, and encouraging healthy financial habits, gamification is a win.
Jan 24, 2023
Laura Caseley
Content Writer

Chances are, you’re already gaming – even if you don’t realize it. Whether it’s a crossword, a matching game, or anything else, gamification is a part of life, and not just leisure. Gaming is more popular than ever. The age of the average gamer is 33, and is someone who’s been gaming for about 14 years. 

Many major industries have adopted gaming-inspired strategies to increase engagement, attract new customers, and make their online experience the best possible. One industry in particular is healthcare, which often uses gaming strategies to educate and encourage healthy habits. Fitbit is a popular example of a gamified product that encourages people to beat their previous “scores” of physical activity by monitoring steps and heart rate, and providing a record of achievements. 

Banking is getting in on gaming, too, and has more gamified aspects than might be immediately obvious. For example, most credit cards implement some kind of rewards system for purchases. Often, extra reward points are offered for certain purchases at different times of year, like online shopping around the holidays or gas during summer. This encourages cardholders to make certain purchases in order to rack up rewards points they can use later. 

Gamification might sound trivial, but it’s a marketing and UX strategy with tremendous results if done correctly. It puts the customer first, prioritizes their experience, drives engagement, and it’s something banks and credit unions can absolutely harness to provide even better banking.

Harness gaming while keeping your brand identity

When the word “game” is used, it can unfortunately conjure up imagery that doesn’t mesh with the branding of a bank or credit union. But gaming doesn’t have to look any different than any other aspect of your digital banking experience. In fact, gamifying elements of your digital experience can create an even more seamless and engaging experience for users. 

Gaming can be used for marketing strategies, too, as a way to engage with potential customers and hold their attention. Consider the way mattress company Casper uses rebus puzzles to pique people’s natural curiosity while communicating their branding. The simple word-and-image puzzles retain attention as people attempt to figure them out, and the sleep-related solutions reflect the brand’s dedication to comfort and quality. Finally, their placement on commuter trains meant that people had the time to really engage with the images.

Gamifying can help people improve their financial habits

It’s not just about individual transactions and daily banking activity. The addition of gaming elements has been shown to help people learn and retain information, and this applies to financial literacy and insight that leads to healthier saving and spending habits. Gamification also inspires self-motivated goal-setting and self-directed learning, and gives agency to the user. This has been shown in examples of gamification used in education settings, where students become more engaged with the subject when gaming elements are introduced. 

There is a caveat, though: gaming elements only work when people find them appealing, so having information about what users do and don’t like to engage with is crucial. 

Managing personal finances

It’s hard to manage your finances if you can’t immediately tell where all your assets are. Users need to have all of their account information accessible in a clear, easy-to-understand layout.  

Banks and credit unions can take inspiration from the inventory dashboards used in games. These screens show what a player has and how much of it they have so they have a clear idea of where they are, and what they need. The same concept can be used to communicate account information. 

Games often use an inventory screen, like this example, to show players what they have and how much of it they have for easy reference.
A clean, uncluttered, and well-designed account information screen makes for a stress-free experience that communicates everything people need to know about their accounts.

Establishing savings 

Purchase roundups offer people the option to round their purchase amount up to the next dollar, and put the difference into a savings account, building up savings little by little and potentially making a big difference in the end. Using a progress bar or level system can show people that a little goes a long way when it comes to savings, and encourage saving habits. 

Narmi AppXchange partner Harvest offers Automated Micro-Savings, a free service to customers that allows them to incrementally save and watch it all add up – all while deposits stay at the same financial institution. This program also allows customers to “level up” to a different wealth offering when their micro savings reach a certain threshold.  

Gaining general financial literacy

Banking can be confusing, so offering a fun and approachable way to learn about it can make a world of difference when it comes to the banking experience. Think “edutainment” games, but with a financial focus. And they can be for any age, which is a great way to instill healthy habits early in life for success later. Presenting what can be a dry subject matter as a game or a quiz with incentives like prizes makes it more appealing and keeps people coming back and learning more. It’s also a great way to reach out to your community at large and create a resource for those looking to be more financially-savvy, but who may not know where to start. 

Making a difference

Many people want to donate money to favorite causes, but don’t always feel able to do so. Narmi AppXchange partner Lemonade, an insurance company, takes the unclaimed amount of their customers’ premiums and donates them to a charity of that customer’s choice through their Giveback program. The program inspires people to keep better track of their insurance claims and habits, while also giving them the chance to give to causes they care about without spending extra money. 

Pro-tips for getting started with gamification 

Don’t make it too hard

Frustration and confusion make for a bad user experience – and a bad experience leads to abandonment. Actual games need to strike that delicate balance between too easy and too hard, but in this regard, banks and credit unions are actually in luck: “too easy” is simply not a problem!

However, when it comes to behavioral changes, like setting money aside in a savings account or improving a credit score, a bit of a challenge is needed, especially as people “level up” – because it feels so good to overcome! 

Make the rewards worth the challenge

Leverage the data you have to give people what they really want. This will encourage them to engage and keep them interested in what else they can get with continued engagement. 

It also shows that your institution is engaged with its customers and members and in tune with what they want. 

Narmi’s refer-a-friend automation gives people what they really want – money!

Narmi's refer-a-friend option allows people to get a little bonus.

Keep track of progress

Gaming is a fun way to engage with customers, but it’s also a valuable asset for both them and your financial institution. 

On the customer side, tracking progress allows them to look back on their past behavior and see how far they’ve come, which is a great way to encourage them to keep up with healthy financial habits and stay engaged. It proves that progress can be made, even if incrementally, and that changing habits even slightly can make a huge difference in their financial lives. 

This information is also a great way to track engagement and habits of customers and members. It will show you what areas are popular and which could use some tweaking, and will also provide you with even more behavioral data you can integrate into future products and services. Consider analyzing, tracking, and improving your data a game itself for your team!

Gaming elements to consider


Points are a great “instant gratification” reward. People can immediately see the points they earn, whether that’s from purchases or other actions, and it shows them their progress in real time towards tangible rewards like cash back, donations, or goods. 

Pro Tip: Points are a very flexible concept and can be applied to nearly anything. They can reflect putting a certain amount into savings, dollar amounts from credit card purchases, or for meeting certain personal goals.


Levels are a way to show people their progress. Getting to the next level not only allows them to see how far they’ve come, it also gives a sense of relief in that a challenge is now behind them and they’ve “evolved” into a new level of expertise. 

Narmi's progress bar shows people exactly how far they've come and how much they still need to do.
Pro Tip:Progress bars or charts are a great way to show people visually how far they’ve come, and how far they have to go to reach their goal, and can be used to display points, levels, and/or achievements.


Achievements are special rewards for specific behavior or occasions. These can be milestones reached, such as amounts of points gained, time spent with the app, or anything! Duolingo offers achievement badges as a way to reward those who consistently use the app. These can also create a personalized record of habits and preferences, depending on how in-depth they get. 

Lotteries and raffles

Not everyone wants to be involved in multistep games that take time to progress in. But you can involve those people, too, with a no-effort, one-step game like a lottery. All they have to do is click and they have the chance to win a prize. A raffle-style lottery can be used to incentivize signing up for programs: if someone signs up, they can automatically be entered in a chance to win a prize. Lotteries can be offered around special occasions or coincide with a new product rollout, so they can be leveraged in marketing, too. 


Polls might not seem like a “game” but they provide the crucial feedback needed to keep serving people well. And you can make them more game-like to make them more appealing. 

Sephora borrowed Tinder’s famous swipe-right-or-left mechanic to allow people to express what they like and what they don’t. This can be adapted to see what people are looking for in banking services or experiences with a simple yes-or-no mechanic that’s easy and approachable. You can also encourage participation in polls by offering rewards for doing so.

There are many options and things to consider when designing a great banking experience. Gamified elements should certainly be among them, not only because they'll be familiar and intuitive, but because they can ultimately improve the financial lives of your institution's community, and they might even have fun doing it.

Narmi Inc.
3 East 28th St. Floor 12
New York, NY 10016

In banking, gamification is a win