To read this content please select one of the options below:

Can gamification improve financial behavior? The moderating role of app expertise

Julia Bayuk (Department of Business Administration, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA)
Suzanne Aurora Altobello (Department of Marketing, Management, and Entrepreneurship, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 28 February 2019

Issue publication date: 21 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore potential benefits of gamification (application of game-playing elements) for financial well-being and motivation to save.


A preliminary survey of college students explored how gamification principles incorporated into money-savings/personal finance smartphone apps could improve financial well-being. The main study utilized Mechanical Turk participants, exposing them to financial game app descriptions that emphasized social features (e.g. leaderboards and ability to share achievements) or economic features (e.g. ability to earn real money or a higher interest rate). Objective and subjective financial measures including expertise with financial apps, perceived benefits of financial apps and behavioral intentions were examined.


Financial worry, financial literacy, subjective knowledge and expertise with money-savings/financial applications predicted financial well-being. Additionally, consumers varied in their preferences for certain financial game app features based on past financial app experience. Those who already used a financial app tend to exhibit higher subjective (though not objective) knowledge, and want both “social” and “economic” features of financial applications, whereas those with no experience are more motivated by economic features.

Practical implications

These results could be used to guide game designers regarding which features may be more attractive to consumers depending on their prior expertise with financial smartphone applications. Financial services marketing would benefit from further research into whether smartphone financial applications that emphasize social features have benefits for consumers’ motivation and financial well-being.


Examining college students about to enter the real world and the general population, this project contributes to research to improve understanding of financial well-being by examining how already having a financial gamification application impacts perceptions of knowledge and expertise, as well as intentions to save given a more socially focused vs economically focused savings app. Additional research needs to further explore gamification as an experimental intervention to ultimately improve both subjective financial well-being and objective financial behaviors, especially for consumers with lower expertise and high risk of financial vulnerability.



Bayuk, J. and Altobello, S.A. (2019), "Can gamification improve financial behavior? The moderating role of app expertise", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 951-975.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles