One Part Personal Finance, One Part Mobile Gaming: Meet Long Game

Mobile gaming has siphoned millions of hours of free time from people’s lives, helping make bathroom breaks and bus rides more enjoyable for anybody with a smartphone. One fintech entrepreneur was inspired by mobile gaming’s ability to get people to consistently come back and engage with an app and saw an opportunity to apply that engagement to personal finance.

That’s why Lindsay Holden, CEO of Long Game, created an app that gives users the chance to win money and play games as they save money. Unlike the lottery, another money game, there’s no way to lose your funds.

We caught up with Holden to learn more about how to make personal finance more of a game. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

How do you see a product like Long Game fitting into the ecosystem of personal finance apps? If someone’s using multiple products, for instance, what do they use Long Game for?

Lindsay Holden: The way we look at it is the emotional core of the problem with people’s financial mismanagement is that finances are just stressful for most people. There are plenty of stats out there—63 percent of people can’t afford a $500 unexpected expense, over 50 percent of Americans don’t look at their finances—that is kind of pointing to [the idea] that it’s easier to not engage with your finances in a lot of ways. I think a lot of the finance apps that you see out in the market today are supporting that.

For example, Digit says “let us do it for you,” other companies are “set this up and forget it.” Long Game has a different approach. We believe that engagement is really key for building long-term financial habits and we want people to have a rewarding experience with their finances so they do want to engage with them. In doing that, we’re attracting a different audience. You’ll find that our audience is probably different than, say, Clarity Money’s—we’re more of a mass-market product for people who want to have a fun and rewarding experience with their finances, like mobile gamers.

We actually look to gaming. We think gaming is a mastermind of engagement. We’ve adapted strategies that we’ve seen in other industries to personal finance. For example, we have a very strong focus on positivity within the app. You can’t lose in Long Game. Personal finance is a pretty negative thing for most people, so we’re trying to create a positive “container” to do that.

We’re optimizing for consistent usage over time. In gaming, there’s focus on bingeing and getting people to spend a lot of time in the app, but it’s a very short interaction that people have with Long Game. They come in, they see that you’ve accrued a certain amount of points to play and you play a game. It’s a very quick interaction, but it’s consistent and people do it every day.

We really want it to be a meaningful experience. As you grow your savings over time, it feels really good. What we’ve seen so far is really promising—we see in the data that people are growing their accounts and it’s a meaningful amount of money they’re saving.

You mentioned that you were positioning Long Game as a mass-market app. Does your vision for the company include it evolving into more of a one-stop shop for personal finance needs, or is it just a means to get people to save more?

Long-term, we’ll offer more financial products than Long Game. It’ll become a financial hub that rewards you for things you’re supposed to be doing. That evolution allows us to create a bigger game interaction over the mini-games that we have today.

You touched on that the people you’re trying to convert into customers are mobile game users—tell me more about the demographics of a Long Game customer. What kind of data do you collect on your users?

Our users are all Millennials, mostly in their late twenties. They’re digital-native and play mobile games. Millennials are in a tough time financially, so we see that a lot of them are paying back student loans and have a lack of savings to begin with and are starting out in their financial lives.

What’s most important for people to know about Long Game? What excites you about the company?

We really want people to feel good about their financial experience, so that’s what we’re trying to do here.

This article is exclusive to Nasdaq.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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