yukai chou gamification

Top 10 Finance Gamification Examples To Level Up in 2023

This article was written by Erik van Mechelen, based on the Octalysis framework designed by Yu-kai Chou. Updated in 2023.

Human-focused Finance

The main takeaway from Yu-kai Chou’s Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards is that design experiences, particularly those involving gamification, need to be designed for humans. That’s why Yu-kai refers to them as human-focused.

Finance should be human-focused too. It’s not only about numbers and making them better. It is about improving our relationship to money, making it easy for families to track expenses and investments, and helping businesses manage their contractors and make deals.

Here are the top 10 finance apps to watch (or use!) in 2017.

As always, I’ll refer to the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis. As a bonus, I will mention a few Game Techniques along the way, too!

Edit: I also just learned about SaveUp.com (earn credits for financial behaviors), SmartyPig.com (automate transfers to digital piggy banks earmarked for savings goals), and Trade Samurai (learning Forex trading). These are very solid as well!

10. Mint

Mint’s early growth propelled it to be acquired by Intuit, where it has progressively improved its offering.

When you’re on top of your money, life is good. We help you effortlessly manage your finances in one place.

Mint’s homepage plays to epic meaning, accomplishment, ownership, and convenience.

Game technique: Mint uses Blank Fills (Game Design Technique #5, Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creative Feedback) to help you create budgets.

What could make it better: Mint is really solid, but they could improve their family plans for even more Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

9. Venmo

A quick way to pay back friends for small (or large) joint purchases. Helps you save time at restaurants with a single check or get event tickets when in a time crunch.

Game technique: Venmo uses Dynamic Feedback (Game Design Technique #12, Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creative Feedback) as soon as you send money to a friend, which can optionally be posted in your feed for Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

What could make it better: The main reward is speed and convenience, but if my friends don’t have it, I’ll use PayPal.

8. Robinhood

Robinhood helps you steal money from the rich and give it to the poor.

Well, sort of 🙂

RobinHood helps you easily make zero-commission orders on the stock exchange.

Game technique: RobinHood gives you a Head Start (Game Design Technique #39, Core Drive 2: Development of Accomplishment) with real-time market data (vs brokerage delays of 20 minutes).

What could make it better: Robinhood uses Smart Notifications to notify you in advance of scheduled events — like earnings, dividends, or splits, so you can get up-to-date information at the right time. If these could be tailored to take action on my behalf, I might even be more interested. Save more time, make more money.

7. Learn Vest

Step by step financial plans to fit your life.

Game technique: Learn Vest is supposed to feel like a human financial planner, which gives the feeling of Mentorship (Game Design Technique #61, Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness)

What could make it better: Learn Vest is probably looking into Alexa and other integrations which could reduce the time spent with interfaces.

6. Tip Yourself

Tip Yourself is savings app that allows users to give themselves small rewards or “tips” for good behavior. Over time, these add up, promoting the habit of saving.

Game technique: Level Money uses Evolved UI (Game Design Technique #37) to demonstrate your progress.

What could make it better: Level Money could implement additional goal-setting, pushing me for more accomplishment (Core Drive 2: Development of Accomplishment).

5. Qapital

Qapital connects experiences and payments to saving actions in real time. Similar to IFTTT’s recipes (now called applets), you could create a trigger for every time you bought a coffee to save 50 cents into your savings account. Whenever you check your ESPN app, you could save money toward buying tickets to watch your favorite team.

Game technique: It would be great to see Mini-Quests (Game Design Technique #48, Core Drive 2: Development of Accomplishment) added to the Onboarding.

What could make it better: What’s most interesting about Qapital to me is the ability to create habits relating to your contextual spending.

4. Monefy

Monefy is a pretty straightforward money manager and expense tracker. It does what you’d expect from an expense tracker.

Game technique: Monefy uses Evolved UI (Game Design Technique #37, Core Drive 2: Development of Accomplishment) as you balance or track expenses across categories.

What could make it better: I’d love to see some Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creative Feedback added…let me have more fun by setting short achievable goals on the way to my long-term savings targets.

3. Wisely

Wisely tracks actual credit card transactions at restaurants to give you unbiased reviews.

Game technique: Wisely gives people Head Start (Game Design Technique GT #39, Core Drive 2: Development of Accomplishment
) with the best information about places before they even spend time or money there.

What could make it better: I’d love to see a Watercooler (Game Design Technique #55, Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness) to give restaurant attendees the chance to chat anonymously and share even more insider tips to give Head Starts.

2. Quickbooks Self Employed

Quickbooks by Intuit helps business owners connect all their business accounts to manage their money and their business, from expense tracking to client management to invoice creation and customization.

Game technique: Quickbooks provides an Alfred Effect (Game Design Technique #83, Core Drive 4: Ownership and Possession) with previously-invoiced clients.

What could make it better: I’d love to see my business expenses pre-arranged into an expense bucket. This is almost there with a one-button upload to TurboTax, but not quite.

1. Paypal

Paypal is a leader for personal, family, and business money management.

Game technique: Paypal uses a variety of techniques, but one powerful one gives anyone getting money from friends or clients a free and customizable landing page to collect money through Paypal.me. This helps freelancers get paid easily.

What could make it better: If PayPal was as easy to use as Venmo, that would make it better.

What do you use? What did I leave out?

I’m curious to learn what other Finance apps are out there, so please leave me a comment! I read all of them.

For an extra challenge, share what game techniques you would add to the finance apps you already use.

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7 thoughts on “Top 10 Finance Gamification Examples To Level Up in 2023”

  1. Hi Erik, and all. Great list. At Copper Street we’re using gamification to engage new investors. Our thought is that some people learn differently than others and for those that learn better by interacting, we want to use gamification to engage users while teaching them about investing. We want people to learn from each other, learn through experimentation, and become comfortable with trading and possible results all in a simulated environment before graduating to real trading. We plan to implement more of Yu-Kai’s gamification techniques as we mature the product.

    1. Thanks for your engagement, Kevin. I’m curious to learn more about how you’re doing that. Definitely feel free to shoot me an email, too! I love investment simulations 🙂 erik.vanmechelen at gmail

    2. Thanks for the kind words Kevin. I think you guys have a booth at SxSW right? I might drop by and see how you guys are doing 😉

  2. Hi Erik
    A question here related to my obsession to complete the GT Collection Set. You mentioned Blank Fills as GT #5. I have GT#5 as Fixed Action Rewards / Earned Lunch. Which is it? I’ve found this before in my travels and hope you can clarify. Is #11 Plant Picker or General’s Carrot? I would also really like a hint as to how many GTs you have identified, so I know what I am aiming towards 🙂

    1. Thx for your engagement Sarah! I have #7 for Fixed-Action, and you’re right #11 is plant picker, but it can combo with general’s carrot, which isn’t on the list anymore…keep creating your own, too! Can email me erik.vanmechelen at gmail if more questions, too!

    2. Hey Sarah,

      Let me help you here. Fixed Action Rewards (Earned Lunch) is actually #7. Here: http://yukaichou.com/marketing-gamification/six-context-types-rewards-gamification/
      Blank Fills is #5 as noted.

      General’s Carrot is now termed Plant Picker, because I felt General’s Carrot is more of an overarching strategy, but less like a game design technique (just like Urgent Optimism is not a game technique). But many game design elements can contribute towards a General’s Carrot strategy.

      Hope this helps!

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