Pay To Play

A review of some of the most popular payment gamification apps brings commonalties to light.

Yun Ma

By Yun Ma


What do 48% of Americans say is there No. 1 worry? Money.

Credit unions are addressing this anxiety and helping consumers have a little fun in the process by using points, levels, credits, and prizes to encourage positive financial behaviors. By incorporating gamification principles into payment and service channels, credit unions are growing interchange income, increasing branch visits, boosting local spending, and helping members build retirement funds.

App designers, banks, and other companies are getting in on gamification, too. According to a Gartner research report, 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gameified application by 2014.

So what makes a good gamification feature? Simple, easy-to-grasp concepts and streamlined, effortless processes like those seen in these examples. 

squarePay With Square

The days of using a paper punch card to buy 10 drinks and get one free are over. A new feature on the mobile payment app Square provides virtual punch cards for select merchants. Users can earn VIP-like deals or rewards based on their purchase history.


This mobile payment app provides merchant points to users who make point-of-sale purchases. Users can trade points for benefits such as store credit and discounts. The app does not collect interchange fees — good for merchants, bad for financial institutions — opting instead to rely on earnings from its loyalty programs. According to, LevelUp had more than 500,000 users as of December 2012.

black-fridayBlack Friday: The Game

A new ePlate smart credit card from Payment device innovator Dynamics, Inc. links together different mobile game apps and bases experiences and advantages on the consumer’s purchases. Financial institutions can use the game to drive card use and developers earn 0.25% of any transaction that uses their game. Black Friday — the first of these offerings — includes mini games and power-ups. Other apps include pinball and scavenger hunts.


Created by Bobber Interactive, GoalCard is a Facebook-based cash management tool that helps teens handle their money. It is loaded with graphics and mini-games and Finovate named it a “Best in Show.”

punch-the-pigPunch The Pig

PNC Bank’s pig icon says “oink” and “cha-ching” to remind mobile wallet users to transfer funds from their spend account to their growth account.


July 8, 2013



No comments have been posted yet. Be the first one.