If you were one of those fanatically collecting Huat Pals on your Google Pay app during Chinese New Year, you’ll want to meet Lauren Ooi, who was part of the team behind the campaign. Lauren works on the Product Strategy and Operations team, where she is tasked with bringing helpful experiences to users and building a sustainable business for Google.
What are your thoughts around gamification in finance?
The digital payments space is a rapidly growing ecosystem where the common goal of financial service providers is to make payments easy.
Gamification is a strategy we took to engage users meaningfully, and to build loyalty. We designed the experience with a user-first approach, while emphasising the simple and fun aspects of Google Pay. At Google Pay, we understand that Singapore consumers like to be rewarded for everyday commerce engagements and they’re used to social actions such as “sharing”, “referring”, “unboxing”, so we have embedded gamification-driven virality in financial transactions to make users’ experience on Google Pay fun and rewarding.
We realise that payments don’t take place in isolation — they are part of the daily interactions users have with friends, family and local businesses. When designing Google Pay, we focused on the users and emphasised the concept of relationships, making it different from a typical payments app.
Back in February 2021, Google Pay Singapore launched a contest where users needed to complete a series of actions to collect a complete set of characters. How did this idea come about and was it successful?
The refreshed version of the Google Pay app was launched in September 2020. Singaporeans celebrated a very different Chinese New Year in 2021; given the Covid-19 situation during the festive season, we wanted to give our users the opportunity to usher in a prosperous year through a social game that will keep the spirit of family reunion and reconnection alive, so Huat Pals was created.
It’s a local, social game that gives our users an opportunity to experience the traditional reunion with families and friends, while having a rewarding experience on the app. Judging from the outpouring of user love — memes, artwork, someone even wrote an original song! — I think users really embraced the game and loveable characters
Can you share three key principles around how to use gamification in a fintech app?
A user-first approach plays a very important role in gamification. Before we are able to build products and offer services to help our users, we have to understand who they are, what they need and how they interact with digital technology and content. We do research and collect insights because we cannot simply customise an existing product that was created in Silicon Valley.
It’s also important to make things simple. It’s a game; it should not be complex. We made sure there were no complicated steps in joining the Huat Pals game and no extra layers to win a reward. It was easy to form groups and gift someone a character. We tapped on our experience to make complicated processes simple for users, and to help more people take part in digital payments.
Finally, privacy and security forms the foundation of a fintech app, and should be top of mind even when gamifying a campaign. We made sure that privacy control features are easy to access and manage within the app settings.
Beyond gamification, we’ve always had a robust security system in place that is built on world-class machine learning and fraud detection algorithms to make sure our users’ money is kept safe. Transactions are encrypted, and the cards in Google Pay used for contactless payments are tokenised. We serve alerts and notifications, and users also need to verify every time they use Google Pay or when they tap to pay.