Gaming Customer Acquisition for Consumer Banking

The consumer banking industry in Pakistan has long relied on free offers, sweepstakes, and contests as a means of customer acquisition.

The consumer banking industry of Pakistan has spent decades relying on free offers, sweepstakes, and contests as a means of customer acquisition. Disjointed campaigns, with weak alignment with sales teams, means that campaigns do a phenomenal job in attracting an audience, only to learn that the acquisitions fail to represent sales qualified leads.

Some notable examples are campaigns by Standard Chartered Bank and Habib Bank Limited. For existing customers, the banks rely on a couple of reasons to buy: discounts with selected merchants, a branded app for branchless banking, and co-branded products.

Products that struggle with traction add to Pakistan’s financial inclusion challenge, with misallocated marketing expenditures facing the scrutiny of the State Bank of Pakistan, the regulator for Pakistan’s banking industry.

Seasoned industry veterans and commentators have suggested that the factors holding back these campaigns include the unwillingness to invest in customer journey mapping and the misalignment between incentives & objectives of marketing and sales departments.

To work around the cluttered approach to customer acquisition, JS Bank decided to use a platform based approach toward customer acquisition, with the help of Tacit Solutions. In the lead up to Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2018, JS Bank launched a gaming platform featuring the teams in the nationwide tournament called JS Apni Cricket League.

JS Apni Cricket League – Audi A3 Winner – Asad Ali

What could be better than playing the exciting JS Apni Cricket League during a thrilling cricket season and then driving away in an A3 Audi? Congratulations to Asad Ali on behalf of JS Bank for winning the Audi A3 Grand Prize on the JS Apni Cricket League app.

Posted by JS Apni Cricket League on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“The game was free to download and play,” said Omer Salimullah, head of open banking & ecosystem development at JS Bank. “We nudged customers towards opening a wallet because purchasing boosters would increase chances to win. If you had a bank account already, you could IBFT into it.”

From the 23rd of February to the 25th of March 2018, the game was marketed with a $1 million budget with amplification tactics in ATL, BTL, and digital. “There was four DVC’s shot in Pakistan, there was a complete communications strategy, BTL activities and university engagement,” said Khurram Sheikh, the chief digital officer of JS Bank. “In-app purchases were two million rupees.”

Screenshot of an internal presentation at JS Bank, presented to board of directors. These milestones became the basis of spearheading a digital-based customer acquisition strategy at JS Bank, with a focus on platforms.

Salimullah said that the app was downloaded over 350,000 times, with 99% daily engagement rate, of which 22% of users converted to create digital wallets. Salimullah and Sheikh attest that the app sought to serve three KPI’s – determining the success of the Open API platform approach, gauging in-app purchases, and customer conversion.

Of the 75,000 conversions to digital wallets on the app, nearly 90% opted for a JS Bank account, bringing the cost of per customer acquisition to $15, justified due to the average account balances being $800 to date, according to JS Bank.

The success of the app proved that the Open API’s by JS Bank could successfully and seamlessly integrate with an app, serving as a case study which has attracted a 600-strong developer network to JS Bank’s ecosystem program. This ties into the long-term play of JS Bank, with an interest to monetize its platform as a service (PaaS) approach which aims to enable businesses interested in digitizing payments.

Every API is available in five languages. You literally can launch a payment play with us as a white label in less than 24 hours.

“We didn’t make this in-house,” said Salimullah. “We came across a startup in Lahore called Tacit Solutions and they created the UI and UX of the app in 30 days, including the fantasy league algorithm. The banking transactions using our API’s were incorporated in three days, with 80% of the transaction types you find in normal banking apps placed inside the gaming app.”

Sheikh stated that these API integrations occurred without the involvement of his team, proving the quality and seamless nature of the API’s. Quality assurance for the UI and UX were his only concern because the app was branded with JS Bank, and the fantasy league algorithm was also reviewed before launch.

Salimullah believes that the family-business nature of JS Bank guarantees a higher probability of success, with only one decision maker meaning that his team is not locked in months of meetings to gain project go ahead, unlike publicly owned banks in Pakistan. The second factor is that JS Digital, the digital ecosystem team of JS Bank, has its own office, which means that resources are allocated accordingly and IT is not resource constrained.

“If Uber wants to launch a payment play here, we can enable UberPay in 24 hours because the APIs are already available,” said Salimullah. “Every API is available in five languages. You literally can launch a payment play with us as a white label in less than 24 hours. We take care of licensing, SBP, audit, compliance – you take care of the CX, marketing, and customer service.”

Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed is the Technology Editor at Branding In Asia in Singapore. He can be reached on babar@brandinginasaia.com for exclusive pitches.

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