Moroku Bags More Awards

Gaming explains everything

14 Sep, 2014
Colin Weir
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It was approaching 1pm on Friday and I was due in the city for some afternoon meetings. Having finished off a couple of emails, I checked my watch and had good time to catch the ferry across the harbour. I grabbed my bag and headed off on a 10 minute walk to the wharf. 3 minutes out the door I was about to cross a side street when a car came hurtling out of a car park, but 2 steps in front of me, took out a white van travelling along the street and then crashed into a café on the other side of the street. It was dramatic stuff, the van getting lifted into the air and spun around 180 degrees. The dust and explosion of the crash, the drama of movies and the adventure of games.


One might be tempted to think that we are all conscious beings, the world the result of our individual interests and co-ordinated outcomes, but there’s a critical catch even more profound than chaos and that creates outcomes that none of us necessarily desire.

Less dangerous and complex than walking around driving cars coming out of car parks is the simple act of walking on the foot path. If everyone were to stand still, I could easily manoeuvre my way through the crowd. But as soon as more and more people start moving things get a little more interesting, a little more risky and a little more unpredictable. The chances for collision mount and things move from the mere tactics of walking to the more strategic. Moves are planned ahead, we look for people 4 and five away to find our route. It becomes edgy and we begin to behave in new ways, modifying our intent, beliefs and tactics along the way .

Game theory is much more than the way we design games. Rather it is the study of strategic decision making, used in economics, political science, biology, psychology and increasingly computer science. The theory’s father is widely regarded as John von Neumann who published “Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour” in 1944. Whilst the ocean wants to be flat, seeking like everything else in the universe, equilibrium, there are more subtle forces working against this plan. Waves, wind, heat, themselves seeking their own equilibrium, conspire to disrupt the balance and the world unfolds. By understanding these points of disruption we begin to understand why things are the way they are and why people behave as they do. When it comes to explaining how everything works there are few theories as profound as game theory. It is so powerful that ten game-theorists have won the Nobel memorial prize in economics.  Applying a gaming filter to our enquiry into the behaviours of people and people based systems can help us understand the forces at play when people take decisions and act.

Game theory helps us structure our approach into behavioural analysis. It defines the players of the game, the information and actions available to each player at each decision point and the payoffs for each outcome. These are used along with a solution concept to deduce a set of equilibrium strategies for each player, such that no single player can profit by unilaterally deviating from their strategy.

Whether we think about our banking customers, their journeys of challenges and the development of financial muscle or the lady hurtling across the road there is much to be gleaned. “What was she doing?”, “Why did she do that?” These were the questions everyone began asking as the car lay crumpled into the wall , the emergency services arrived and my details taken down in the constable’s notebook for a statement. The game played out, more actions were taken, some lessons were learnt whilst others were left till next time.

Darwin had some insights into how we all got here and where we may go. Chaos theory can help explain some of what happened as I embarked on a simple mission to go to a meeting. But Game Theory provides us with a most useful framework for determining the playing out of life and is why we have built a business in its application.

Emerging market banks revenue 5X growth in a decade demands new approaches to risk

3 Sep, 2014
Colin Weir
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Emerging market bank revenues have surged from $0.27 quadrillion in 2002 to $1.4 quadrillion in 2012, according to Mckinsey . Asia and Latin America have been the real growth engines of the global banking market as clearly evidenced here


Yet recent margins are being hit by risk, forcing CEOs in these markets to rethink their risk management approaches, extending from measurement, compliance, and control to include approaches to mitigate challenges on credit, capital allocation, and liquidity or funding.

McKinsey recommends that CEOs look at four primary areas for attention:

  • Creating a risk culture
  • Rethinking capital allocation
  • Improving the collections process
  • Developing innovative risk models

Of these, the last two present opportunities for the digital channel and in in particular the mobile channel to impact.

Loan-loss impairments for emerging-market banks nearly tripled to €34 billion between 2007 and 2012. Addressing this issue requires identifying actions on non-performing loans that can have an immediate impact alongside improving credit management. Along the way there needs to be a greater capacity to understand customer credit worthiness, whether that information is gained directly from customers and their transactions or sourced externally from credit agencies.

Well-designed mobile applications are not only the channel of choice for customers around the world, including emerging markets but when well-designed have the ability to gather more data about customers, build financial literacy and therefore credit worthiness as well as compel customers to take action, not only by asking them to take particular actions but more importantly guide, reward and incent them to do so.

As emerging markets become increasingly attractive to international banks looking to grow their businesses outside of highly penetrated and increasingly flat or declining growth markets in the developed world, well thought out mobile strategies will move to the forefront not only in revenue generation but also in how risk is managed and improved.

What drives our behaviour around money?

7 Aug, 2014
Colin Weir
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At Moroku we spend a lot of our time trying to unlock a key riddle

 “If financial health is so important for so many, why are so few good at it?”

The flip side to this riddle is “Why do people spend so much time on other things, things that seem to matter less?

In our search to unlock this, we spend a lot of time trying to understand the things that drive and engage us every day, influencing our decisions, behaviours, habits and actions. The fields of neuroscience and cognitive psychology provide us with a lot of insight here and reveal a core set of drivers that make us feel alive and motivated. Understanding these help us build applications and systems that shift peoples mental state when it comes to banking and their financial health and importantly drive action.

From our research, this core set of drivers are:

  • Control: Of ourselves and our environment
  • Competence: In our environment, to feel like we understand what’s going on and safely can navigate the world,
  • Congruence: To live in integrity with who we think we are and who we know we can become,
  • Caring: To care for other people and to be cared for
  • Connection: To connect deeply with others

As the internet has unfolded and banks worldwide have built out digital channels to serve customers cheaper and faster much of the risk management and connection has been lost. Gone are the days when the local bank manager knew most of his customers and were able to help guide them along. The relationship has been dehumanised, the connection gone and much of the control lost. With this banks have lost the capacity to help build competence within the service and teach people to core skills needed to budget, save, pay off debt and understand the core principles.

While most of us appear to be relatively good at short-term money management, other behaviours are more troubling. These include the lack of active and long-term savings in formal financial products, excessive reliance on credit (including to make ends meet), and difficulties in choosing adequate financial products and in taking informed financial decisions. How bad is the problem? In 2009 the US bank, Sallie Mae determined that only 49% of young respondents with a college education and 60% of young respondents with postgraduate education could correctly answer three simple questions designed to assess financial literacy.

So where to from here? We suggest thinking about these 5 core drivers when designing the customer experience for banking. We know that these drivers will pull people in, to spend more time thinking and working on the financial futures. By offering people control through competence and demonstrating that we do care and that there is a connected experience via the community inherent in the platform we may drive some new behaviours around money.


Advancing National Strategies for Financial Education

1 Aug, 2014
Colin Weir
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Financial literacy is an enormous issue globally. There is a significant relationship between financial literacy and many of the issues that strike the planet such as peace and wellness. In September, Russia’s G20 Presidency and the OECD published the most recent global review of drivers and strategies for improving financial education globally

The introduction is striking

“Most financial literacy surveys conducted worldwide, including in G20 countries show that a majority of the population do not have sufficient knowledge to understand even basic financial products and the risks associated with the products. A majority of individuals do not plan for the future and fail to make effective decisions to manage their finances. As the global crisis has shown, this can have a negative impact on financial and economic stability as well as on individuals’ or households’ wellbeing, especially among low-income groups.”

The OECD Secretary General continues

In all countries alike, evidence points to worrying low levels of financial awareness, knowledge, attitudes and competencies of large segments of the population. This is especially the case for vulnerable consumers who recently gained access to financial products, as well as for youth, women, migrants and low income groups. Thus, effective financial education can equip our citizens with the skills to take advantage of available financial services and to better assess the (financial) risks they confront.

At Moroku we believe that in addition to national and central bank initiatives, it is incumbent upon the banks, in every country of the world, to be a very real part of the solution. Our hypothesis is simple: Let’s make banking more simple and fun, encouraging people through the proven mechanisms of gaming and social to lean in and build financial literacy from within the service of banking.  Whilst education programs and policy shifts are important there is nothing like the realness of money, activity and outcomes to build muscle, learning and the basis of tomorrow’s new beliefs and attitudes. By removing the fear of banking, making it fun and providing real time feedback there is massive potential to shift the bar.

Lev Vygotsky, an early education thought leader understood this when building education programs. It’s time to take his insight and apply it to the financial education challenges at play.

“A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that tomorrow will become her basic level of real action.” Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) 



Countdown mechanic in full effect

11 Jul, 2014
Colin Weir
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‘Meat Pack’ is a trendy fashionable yet edgy shoe store located in Guatemala, which opened its doors 3 years ago and has quickly gathered a cult following within the sneakerhead subculture.

In this campaign, customers that enter competitor stores have their phones hijacked by a discount. The discount counts down from 100%, motivating the customer to leave the competitor’s store and race to the Meat Pack shore store to claim the discount showing on their phone when they enter