CUNA’s van Rijn talks ‘gamification’ with Buzzfeed

May 21, 2021

CUNA Senior Economist Jordan van Rijn talked with Buzzfeed recently about how things like leaderboards, rewards, points, and prizes in finance apps are “gamification,” or using game-like features to achieve certain goals. These features are increasingly present in financial services apps.

“Applied to personal finance, goals might include meeting a savings target, maybe for retirement or emergency savings or a down payment on a home, paying down debt, or making progress with raising your credit score,” van Rijn said. “There are many mental biases working against us when we try to learn something new, especially if it's a potentially boring or intimidating topic.”

He adds that using gamification helps activate the brain’s reward center and helps users “get into this feeling of flow.”

“If you've come across Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow about the two systems of thinking — system one is very fast and intuitive, automatic, and effortless thinking that's able to make really quick reactions,” van Rijn said. “System two is much more deliberate, logical, and methodical, but system two takes a lot more effort. Gamification helps us get into that 'system one' mode of thinking, where we get into that feeling of flow and things are more fun.”