Coastal Community Bank introduces virtual world

CoastalWorld provides minigames and missions to engage visitors with fintechs.

Imagine a world where anthropomorphic, bean-shaped residents cruise in between forested islands, assistance residents plant trees, guide race vehicles through a paved course and trip jet skis in cerulean blue waters. 

That world is an online truth, created by a neighborhood bank to inform visitors about digital banking and fintech business.

Coastal Community Bank, based in Everett, Washington, has actually introduced a 3D online video game called CoastalWorld to market the bank’s fintech partners’ services to gamers. Anyone can develop an avatar on the video game’s site to pass through the animated world, total minigames and missions for points and engage with fintech business like Aspiration, Bluevine and Prosper.

President Curt Queyrouze and Chief Digital Banking Officer Laura Byers stated the bank developed CoastalWorld as a marketing platform for its fintech partners. The primary objective of the website, in the meantime, is driving engagement and structure trust with Coastal Community Bank and its banking-as-a-service company.

“Even though we’re a bank, we can put something out there that [customers] engage in,” Queyrouze stated. “Then we build, with the customer, a digital persona. Eventually, we expect to find out what your hopes and dreams are, but mining your transaction data to find out about your financial life isn’t the best way. You get a lot of insights, but you don’t get a real view of what the person is about. CoastalWorld gives us that better opportunity to engage and then let you self-drive what you’re interested in.”

Queyrouze included that he believes ingrained financing is an essential part of the future of banking, which the market hasn’t been providing on engagement enough. Byers and Queyrouze stated they wished to develop a method to get in touch with customers beyond a standard site or mobile app, both which are typically driven by particular activities, like paying expenses or examining a balance.

Coastal Community Bank is an active individual in neobank and fintech collaborations, consisting of providing credit and debit card sponsorships, company loaning and deposit services to fintechs. Queyrouze is likewise part of the Alloy Labs Alliance bank innovation consortium, which in 2015 established a playbook for partnering with fintechs.

“I think that goes back to the whole idea of, really, embedded banking is bringing a unique set of products and services and providers together in a way that consumers can learn more, choose more, find the best fit for themselves,” Byers stated. “And we have a really great set of partners, and each one of them offers unique and different kinds of products. So bringing them all together in a different way allows us to co-market for them, but also is a benefit for them being partners with us.”

Gamification isn’t brand-new to monetary services, however usually the method is utilized by bigger banks for monetary education and cost savings. Dylan Lerner, senior expert in digital banking at Javelin Strategy & Research, stated it’s outstanding and special that a smaller sized organization is utilizing gamification as a marketing tool. 

“This was actually something really cool,” Lerner stated. “Because first of all, it’s a small community bank leveraging technology to tackle an industry problem in a really innovative way. They’re not just sitting on the sidelines watching the big banks play ball. They’re actually jumping into banking-as-a-service, and creating their own game.”

Lerner stated it’s significantly challenging for banks to get their brand names in front of customers in a saturated market, specifically for neobanks and fintechs that just exist online, and smaller sized banks, like the $3.45-billion-asset Coastal Community Bank. The virtual CoastalWorld, designed typically off of the San Juan Islands in Washington state, supplies a whimsical setting that fulfills visitors where they are, he stated. 

Big banks have actually been dealing with cost savings and literacy video games, and even their own virtual worlds, however the method’s appeal has actually sped up over the last few years, Lerner stated. Last month, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Truist presented Long Game, a gamified cost savings and financing app it got in 2015, for clients. The app, which should be connected to a Truist account, permits users to make coins based upon account balances, cost savings and deposit activity. Coins can be utilized to play video games for financial rewards that are transferred in gamers’ accounts. 

Lerner stated in an interview last month that he believed Long Game was fascinating, however wasn’t including “habit-forming gamification,” or providing appropriate benefits to clients.

CoastalWorld presented last fall and, prior to the bank’s promo of the website, has actually been getting about 600-800 gos to each day, with users investing 6 to 8 minutes on the video game, Byers stated. 

Coastal Community Bank dealt with French gamification studio Merci-Michel, which has actually likewise made video gaming tasks with Lacoste, L’Occitane and Play-Doh, to create and develop the online platform. CoastalWorld was likewise granted Website of the Year in 2022 by the CSS Design Awards. In an article, Merci-Michel stated it handled the task due to the fact that the bank’s idea appeared unique. 

“At Merci-Michel, we like to blur the line between web/digital marketing and video games,” the post stated. “We believe gamification is a fantastic toolset to engage users and to communicate all sorts of messages in many different cool ways. This project was a perfect playground for us to apply our vision.”

CoastalWorld is a closed system, unlike virtual worlds in the metaverse, however Queyrouze stated he believes broader scale metaverse adoption is on the horizon, and desires the bank to be “on the cutting edge of putting more control in individuals and less control in institutions.”

Information about each fintech in CoastalWorld is provided by non-playable characters, and a lot of the minigames, such as a timed cars and truck, jet ski and bike races, are linked to particular brand names. 

Screenshot of nonplayer character describing Greenwood in CoastalWorld

In CoastalWorld, nonplayer characters explain fintechs’ objectives. Greenwood is a neobank that serves Black and Latino clients.

CoastalWorld presently provides 4 islands and functions simply over a lots fintechs, however Byers and Queyrouze stated the advancement of the video game will be iterative and nimble. They strategy to broaden and improve CoastalWorld, which might consist of progressing beyond simply digital marketing.

“We do see a roadmap that includes some financial education,” Byers stated. “I can envision a world where you have a smart financial education that’s gamified and interactive, and allows [users] to say, ‘Here’s where I am in my life. Here’s what I want to learn about.’ And it picks up on that and keeps giving them the tools as they evolve and interact with different partners and aspects.”

Coastal Community Bank isn’t taking a look at CoastalWorld as a method to drive clients back to the bank … yet. Queyrouze stated the video game has to do with looking into engagement.

“We want to develop and build a trusted place,” Queyrouze stated. “Banking is based on trust, and that’s our focus. That’s our [objective and key results], not the ROI. We believe the ROI will come naturally once we’ve really leveraged that, ‘here’s a place curated by Coastal Community Bank with vetted partners, and a better way to go about managing my financial world.'”


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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