Gamification in Fintech: Is It Still Relevant?

Gamification in Fintech: Is It Still Relevant?

Jovana Matejic
Marketing Assistant

Gamification 101

Learning how to invest in complex financial markets can appear daunting: how can you know if you made the right decision by looking at all these mundane charts and tables? Do you really need to be a blockchain expert so you can reap the benefits of cryptocurrencies? 

This is where the concept of gamification comes into play. It simply means to use game design elements outside of a video-game context. Video-games are an inspiring arena of entertainment and user engagement that can teach us a lot about successful attention grabbing strategies. So, why not use those elements to the fintech’s advantage?


The Financial Sector: Before and After Fintech

As a popular approach across industries, recently utilized in fintech, gamification is radically changing the reputation of the financial sector, making it more approachable to non-experts, youth and financial actors from all over the world. Since the 1960’s and the proliferation of publicly available information on financial markets, this area has become more accessible to the general public. Visualization of financial data and publishing it in traditional media, played an important role in democratizing financial knowledge

Later, during the internet boom in the early 2000’s, it furthered the change in the financial sector, reaching out to an incredible number of potential clients and potential investors. All of the sudden, people had incredible access to different financial services, from saving and insurance options, to taking a mortgage, or investing.


Nowadays, when we have a proliferation of data in general, data-fatigue can develop as a result of an extensive amount of information that we cannot carefully process and deduce which portion is relevant, and which is not. That is why now, it is more important than ever to organize the data in an engaging way, that is going to hold the attention of users, and that will clearly provide additional value compared to unorganized chunks of financial information scattered across the internet. 

The new and innovative fintech industry is doing exactly that, utilizing technological advancement such as different software and hardware tools to make a meaningful change in customer experience. 

The fintech future is Millenial

When considering the pros of a gamified fintech product, it is important to think about Millennials, the generation that will soon become dominant in the financial market


In general, they are considerably less interested in investment, than Gen X, or Baby Boomers and they have less trust in traditional institutions. It is crucial to understand that Millennials are digital natives, and that they thrive in a digital environment, rejecting traditional wealth management of financial activities, such as directly investing in stocks through a third person.  

Millennials are also a generation that got a bad reputation as a “distracted generation ”, that has a shorter attention span and that reads books three times less compared to older generations.

Furthermore, they are also very critical towards traditional financial institutions, as they perceive themselves to have less opportunities to move across the economic classes, and they are more focused on short-term solutions. All these factors come into play when we discuss the pros of gamification, which has a goal to simulate the exciting and thrilling environment of video-games in finances. 

Learn to play, play to learn 

The gamifying options are limitless, and they progressively erase the boundaries between play and financial activity. Gamification does not only have an entertainment value, it clearly offers us educational potential, as well as possibilities to reach more users and to engage them in financial activities


There are two forms of learning through gamification in fintech apps:

Duolingo Style

Way of learning progressively about a subject, and getting rewards as you proceed through the content. For instance, you can employ an engaging feature of high score and implement it in an app that helps you save money, so users can be rewarded when they don’t buy that avocado toast or fancy gadget outside of their budget. The app could also have informative materials teaching the user how to be more financially responsible and create a long-term saving strategy. 

Learning by Simulation

This is especially used in fintech projects dedicated to improving financial literacy. For example, you can help  high school students understand how to invest money by letting them enjoy the virtual trading simulation, where they can compete with their classmates. 

Gamification in fintech: pros and cons



Increasing users’ motivation and engagement

You will be surprised, but the most research in the area of gamification is actually researching its effects in education. Results? Overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating the power of gamification in motivating learners to achieve better results. The most commonly used affordances are points, badges, and tasks and challenges, allowing users to track their progress and to be active in the pursuit of knowledge and skills. 

Innovative approach to learning

Who has decided to start learning a foreign language with the help of a green owl named Duo? Millions of users worldwide, who fell in love with this app, that gives them free language lessons, quizzes, games, and quirky reminders not to miss their daily goals. This app is praised as an app that brought gamification to the mainstream of language learning and assessment. Many educational fintech apps are teaching younger generations about investment, saving, and budgeting. A good example is Investmate or World of Money, both of which successfully use gamification elements providing users immense educational value. 

Democratizing knowledge 

Many gamified fintech apps and platforms are free to use, just one download away from use. How does that affect our access to knowledge? Well in many ways, it has a potential to reach people from different backgrounds, providing them quality knowledge. You don’t need to have a business degree anymore to be in charge of your business account, and you can learn a lot about house budgeting just one click away. Gamification makes the content not only more fun, but also more understandable, and that is especially important when the users are children or youth. 



Decrease in intrinsic motivation

Psychologists define intrinsic motivation as a motivation that comes from a general and honest interest in a subject, or an activity, where the learner finds the meaning and joy in learning. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from external rewards, or lack of them, the best example being a student who is studying solely to pass a test, not being motivated to learn for the higher purpose of bettering his/her knowledge. Sometimes, getting so many rewards, badges and other simulations can diminish the natural process of learning, that also faces failure and boredom. 

Gamification features are time consuming to make

Any software development company knows that gamifying an app takes extra effort and time, than traditional instructional design. This does not only pertain to development itself, but also for additional resources, such as music and sound effects, as well as visual animations and content making the game more diverse and audio-visually appealing. If a fintech company wants to incorporate gamification in the app, it needs to consider the financial cost of development, and its potential ROI for the product as a whole. 

Poorly designed gamification elements backfire

Since gamification is not something new, and users had some experience with it, they have a high set of expectations. If an app is not thoughtfully designed, using the gamification elements with a clear purpose, it could appear rather dull, or in the worst scenario, it could even backfire in terms of the engagement. Gamification should never be considered separately from its purpose, the design and functionality. 

To Gamify or Not?


To conclude, gamification can be a powerful strategy to popularize the financial services, to educate the users and to let them experience the market in an entertaining manner. Although it has some downsides, when used with caution and with a clear idea to promote user engagement, it could help users demystify the financial industry, and use that knowledge for their own advantage. However, in fintech, we must always keep in mind that the user is the king, and before any development or app release occurs, we need to do thorough user experience research, so we can really know how our users are feeling. 


Eric K. Clemons & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "The Internet and the Future of Financial Services: Transparency, Differential Pricing and Disintermediation," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 00-35, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.

Majuri, Jenni & Koivisto, Jonna & Hamari, Juho. (2018). Gamification of Education and Learning: A Review of Empirical Literature..

Arjen van der Heide & Dominik Želinský (2021): ‘Level up your money game: an analysis of gamification discourse in financial services, Journal of Cultural Economy, DOI: 10.1080/17530350.2021.1882537

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