Credit Card Activation: How to speed up activation and first spend with gamification

/ 20 September 2023

All credit card issuers face the same challenge: turning newly issued cards into active spending tools. But the time between receiving a credit card and the moment it becomes an active part of a customer’s financial life is fraught with potential obstacles. 

From activation to initial inertia in spending, many factors can slow down the customer’s journey to that first transaction. Here’s where gamification can turn the tide. By creating an engaging, interactive, and rewarding experience, gamification makes activating a credit card simple and enjoyable.

For credit card issuers, this translates into quicker activations and a smoother transition to first spend. It’s not just about adding fun to the equation; it’s about strategically engaging customers in a way that aligns with their interests and spending habits.

Let’s get into it.👇 

How gamification helps for card activation and first spend 

When it comes to credit card activation and first spend, gamification is an innovative way to engage and motivate cardholders. By tapping into our inherent love for challenges, competition, and rewards, gamification transforms the often-mundane task of activating and using a new credit card into an interactive and enjoyable experience. 

This post will guide you through the various stages, from the moment of receiving the card to making the first spend. We’ll explore how gamification enhances the customer’s experience, offers incentives for activation, and even makes the whole process more engaging. 

📨Stage 1: Receiving the card and initial engagement 

The journey towards activating a credit card begins the moment the cardholder receives their new card. This initial stage is crucial and opens up innovative opportunities for card issuers to captivate their customers’ attention. 

Here’s how gamification can play a key role:

The unpacking experience

The unboxing experience is the cardholder’s first impression of their new credit tool. By enhancing the unboxing experience with gamification, card issuers can make this first interaction memorable and engaging. 

Imagine receiving a virtual unboxing experience on your mobile device, complete with animations and interactive elements that make opening a simple envelope an exciting event. 

You can also nurture initial engagement through gamified welcome messages. A virtual card tour with clickable features, for example, can guide the new cardholder through their card’s benefits, turning a standard welcome into an interactive discovery.

For example, Standard Chartered Bank integrated “Twist and Win”, a gamified campaign into their mobile app. This offers users the chance to win surprise cashback for transactions made with their credit cards, and takes them from personalised onboarding, all the way to allocation of cashback for every eligible transaction. 

This was all delivered via an interactive animation with a fun in-app gumball machine. Standard Chartered Bank saw a sharp uptake in customer’s activities and expenditure during this promotional period. 

Incentives for activation

Once the card is unboxed, the next step is to persuade the cardholder to activate it. Here, gamification can again be used by introducing initial rewards or points for activation. By offering tangible incentives that align with the cardholder’s interests, activation becomes more than a necessity; it becomes an opportunity to start a rewarding journey. 

Whether it’s a discount on a favourite online store, bonus points towards a travel reward, or a virtual badge to mark the beginning of their credit card, these incentives create a connection between the cardholder and their new card. It builds anticipation and encourages them to take that crucial next step: activation.

The blend of an engaging unpacking experience with meaningful incentives creates a seamless and enjoyable transition from receiving the card to activating it. It sets the stage for a customer relationship that’s based on excitement, rewards, and interactive participation. 

📌Stage 2: Locating and using activation information 

The next hurdle in the credit card activation journey often lies in locating and using the information required for activation. This stage, although vital, can sometimes become a stumbling block for customers. Gamification can breathe life into this process, making it not only user-friendly but also engaging. Let’s see how:

Provide interactive guidance

Activation might seem straightforward, but not every user is tech-savvy or familiar with the activation process. Gamified tutorials or walkthroughs can be a game-changer here. Imagine an interactive guide that leads the user through the activation process, providing step-by-step instructions in a game-like environment. 

It could include visual cues, clickable elements, and even interactive quizzes that ensure the user understands each step. This engaging approach not only assists in finding the necessary details but also educates the cardholder about the activation process, making it less daunting and more accessible. 

Plus, interactive support channels, such as chatbots with gamified instructions, can provide real-time help, turning a potential frustration point into an engaging interaction.

For example, Spanish bank BBVA has the BBVA Game which lets customers watch educational videos to be entered to win music downloads, movie tickets, football tickets etc to help push customers through BBVA’s funnel to learn more about its products and expand their banking needs.

Create achievement systems

Moving through the activation process is an achievement in itself, and gamification can acknowledge and celebrate this progression. Awarding badges or points for completing specific tasks within the activation creates a sense of accomplishment and motivation. 

Each step could unlock a new badge, or points could accumulate towards a reward that becomes available upon successful activation. This achievement system taps into the cardholder’s desire to complete a challenge, turning a mundane task into an engaging journey with tangible milestones.

By using gamification at this stage, card issuers not only simplify the activation process but also add an extra layer of interaction and encouragement. The use of interactive guidance and achievement systems transforms what could be a tedious or confusing process into an engaging experience that supports and motivates the user. 

For example, Monobank’s app uses achievement badges, but to earn badges users need to perform various banking tasks. These include spending on certain categories, doing transactions in other countries, or splitting bills with a friend.

✅Stage 3: Preparing and confirming personal information 

Confirming personal information is a critical yet often monotonous step in the credit card activation process. It’s a stage where security and accuracy are paramount, but the procedure can feel tedious to the cardholder. But gamification has the potential to transform this experience, marrying the need for robust security with user engagement. Here are just a few ways:

Secure user interactions

Security is non-negotiable when dealing with personal information, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a dry and mechanical process. Gamified security checks can turn this vital step into an interactive experience. Consider challenges or quizzes that test the cardholder’s knowledge of personal security and privacy. 

These could be framed as missions or puzzles where the cardholder must ‘defend’ their data, with visual and interactive elements that make it engaging. The aim is not just to confirm the information, but also to educate the cardholder about the importance of security in a way that resonates with them. 

This approach creates a sense of participation and personal responsibility for security, rather than merely ticking boxes.

Confirmation rewards

Successfully confirming personal information is an accomplishment that can also be celebrated through gamification. You could award points or virtual goods as a reward for accurately completing this stage. 

These could be part of an ongoing rewards system linked to the card’s benefits or a one-time incentive specific to the activation process. The rewards serve as positive reinforcement, acknowledging the effort and care the cardholder has taken in this process. It creates a sense of achievement and momentum as they progress towards the final activation, adding a layer of excitement to what would otherwise be a mundane task.

By integrating gamification into the preparation and confirmation of personal information, card issuers can elevate the experience from a mere formality to an engaging and educational interaction. It’s a strategy that not only adds interest to the process but also underlines the importance of security in a way that’s meaningful and memorable for the cardholder.

This stage, once considered a potential bottleneck in the activation journey, becomes an opportunity for building trust, knowledge, and anticipation for what comes next. 

💳Stage 4: Activating the card

Activating the card is the end step that sets everything in motion, but it can be a process that seems mechanical and lacking in interaction. Gamification is here to change that by transforming the activation process into an engaging and rewarding experience.

Create an interactive activation process

Why settle for a routine activation when it can be turned into a game-like experience? By incorporating interactive elements, online activation can be anything but ordinary. For example, users could choose from different virtual paths or scenarios that guide them through the activation, each providing a different experience tailored to their interests or card benefits. 

Along the way, rewards or levels could be unlocked for choosing different activation methods or completing specific tasks. The interactivity keeps the cardholder engaged, while the game-like experiences make the process enjoyable and unique to each individual.

Feedback and progress tracking

Nothing is more satisfying than knowing you’re making progress, especially when you’re on the edge of completing an important task. Visual feedback on the activation progress could be as simple as a progress bar that fills up or as intricate as a visual storyline that unfolds as the activation proceeds.

Adding immediate rewards for activation completion, such as special offers or exclusive content, gives the cardholder instant reward and reinforces the positive experience. The clear feedback makes the activation process transparent and rewarding, instilling a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for what’s next.

Gamifying the activation process redefines what is typically seen as a procedural necessity. It elevates it to an engaging experience that resonates with the cardholder’s desire for interaction, progress, and rewards. The use of interactive elements, visual feedback, and immediate rewards creates a connection between the cardholder and the card, transforming it from just a financial tool into a gateway to experiences and benefits. 

It’s a step that seals the relationship between the card issuer and the cardholder, setting a positive tone for what lies ahead. By embracing gamification at this crucial stage, card issuers can turn the activation process into a memorable experience that sets the stage for a dynamic and rewarding cardholder journey.

🛍️Stage 5: First spend experience

The activation of a credit card is a significant milestone, but the journey doesn’t end there. The first spend experience is where the cardholder begins to explore the potential of their new credit card. Gamification can turn the first spend experience into an adventure filled with challenges, social engagement, and education. Here’s how:

Spending quests and challenges

As an example, spending quests and challenges can take the first spend experience to a new level. Imagine a spending quest that guides the cardholder through different spending categories, each with its unique challenges and rewards.

Completing a task at a restaurant might unlock a foodie badge, while spending in a travel category could start a virtual journey to a dream destination. These quests make spending more than just a transaction; they turn it into an interactive game with unlockable rewards or benefits. 

The integration of quests not only adds excitement but also encourages exploration of the various features and benefits associated with the card. For example, CIMB Octosavers Account, Malaysia’s fully digital savings account offers the opportunity to earn rewards through challenges, points, progress charts and lottery elements while assigning interactive missions to users. 

Customer’s achievements give access to vouchers from popular e-commerce platforms and CIMB found this to significantly boost engagement and a highly effective strategy. 

Social engagement

Spending doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Integrating social engagement elements, such as sharing achievements with friends or participating in community challenges, can add a communal dimension to spending. 

Cardholders could compete or collaborate in spending challenges, share their victories, and even earn social recognition within a community of fellow cardholders. By weaving social interaction into the spending experience, card issuers create a sense of community and connection.

Education and guidance

While gamification adds fun and engagement to the spending experience, it also offers an opportunity for education and guidance. Through educational games or content, cardholders can learn about spending benefits, budget management, and responsible use of credit. 

For instance, a game that simulates a month’s spending and rewards wise budgeting can be both fun and instructive. Such educational initiatives not only provide valuable insights but also reinforce responsible spending behaviours.

The first spend experience, enriched with gamification, becomes a blend of adventure, community, and learning. This approach resonates with modern cardholders who seek experiences that are not only transactional but also meaningful and interactive. 

By embracing gamification in the first spend experience, card issuers set the stage for an ongoing relationship that thrives on engagement, exploration, and responsible enjoyment. It’s a fresh take on spending that aligns with a world where financial transactions are not just about money, but about experiences, connections, and growth.

For example, Ally Bank produced an augmented reality Monopoly game where customers could learn about money by using virtual tokens and property spaces in six USA cities hosting AR scavenger hunts for prizes. These games help customers gain financial literacy and the ability to make decisions with limited resources.

Ethical considerations and user experience 

Implementing gamification must be accompanied by a commitment to responsible gaming practices, transparency, fairness, and user-centred design. Here’s a closer look at how these aspects come together to create a responsible and engaging experience:

Responsible gaming practices

  • 1. Ensuring responsible spending encouragement: While gamification encourages spending, it’s essential to strike a balance so that it doesn’t lead to irresponsible financial behaviour. Card issuers can implement safeguards and reminders within the game-like experiences to promote responsible spending. For example, gentle notifications about budget limits or subtle cues to remind users of their financial goals can keep spending in check.
  • 2. Transparency and fairness: Gamification must be implemented with transparency and fairness. The rules of the game, rewards, and the connection between spending and achievements should be clear and accessible to the user. There should be no hidden clauses or deceptive practices. This transparent approach builds trust and ensures that the gamified experience is both fun and fair.

Design considerations:

  • 1. Accessibility and user-centred design: Gamification should be inclusive, catering to a wide audience with varied needs and abilities. The design must be accessible, with user-friendly interfaces that allow easy navigation and participation. By employing a user-centred approach, the experience can be tailored to suit different preferences and capabilities, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the gamified experience.
  • 2. 3radical as a solution: 3radical offers a robust and responsible solution to integrate gamification into the credit card experience. With an emphasis on responsible gaming practices, transparent mechanics, and user-centred design, 3radical provides a platform that aligns perfectly with the ethical considerations outlined above. By choosing 3radical, card issuers can create engaging and ethical gamified experiences that resonate with modern cardholders without compromising on responsibility and accessibility.

The implementation of gamification in the credit card experience is not just about adding fun and engagement; it’s about doing so with a clear understanding of the ethical considerations and a commitment to user experience. 

By weaving in responsible practices and user-centred design, card issuers can create an experience that not only delights but also respects and empowers the cardholder. 

With solutions like 3radical, the integration of these essential elements becomes seamless, creating an experience that is as responsible as it is engaging. It’s a path that reflects not just the allure of the game but the values and priorities of a modern financial world.

The new way forward in the credit card experience

As you can see, gamification is more than a passing trend. It’s a transformative approach that enhances each step, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. From the moment a cardholder unpacks their new credit card to the ongoing spending adventures, gamification breathes life into the experience. 

Whether it’s the interactive unboxing, guided tutorials, achievement systems, or spending quests and challenges, each stage becomes a memorable interaction filled with engagement, rewards, and community. 

Ethical considerations and user-centric design ensure that this exciting journey aligns with responsibility, transparency, and inclusivity.

It’s not just about playing a game; it’s about reimagining the way we interact with financial tools and creating experiences that resonate.
Are you ready to take the step? Join us at 3radical and discover how gamification can redefine the credit card experience for your organisation.

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