Gamification is everywhere these days, however the fun and approachable translation of gaming has not fully pushed into one of the world’s sectors: banking. Nestlings is an attempt to fuse together micro-pets and saving.
Nestlings is the brainchild of Thought Machine Labs, the digital arm of a finance-focused technology company. Thought Machine are perhaps best known for creating Money Monsters, a digital money box which links to a bank account. I spoke with Design Director Fox Rogers whilst at the London Toy Fair earlier this year about the company’s latest creation.
Creating positive savings habits is the aim of Nestlings, with the titular creatures each having their own little ways of helping you save. Savers begin with a small island based around a savings goal, with spaces around that for them to put the Nestlings of their choice. Each one of these little characters, from stacked totem to mechanical man, has their own traits, personalities and savings habits. Lumin, for instance, is a floating glow-worm who banks two pounds for you on a full moon. Shellebrate, a tortoise wearing a crown, will stash away 50p every Friday.
There are plenty of other Nestlings, too. One stashes away money when you walk to work rather than taking public transport, others spot when you’re out on the town and chip away extra money as you go back for another round. Some spot when you’re out late, others save based on the weather.
While certainly not an app that would work for everybody — I know that I certainly don’t have enough money sloshing around in my current account to confidently pair my bank to the app — it is an interesting use of pocket-pet-style gameplay to promote savings. In addition to appeasing your little saving-samaritans, the little area the creatures exist in will shift as you hit milestones.
It was clear from talking to Fox that breaking down the barriers of approachability to banking, and working towards building positive habits, was a major focus of the team when it came to Nestlings. They have already used publicly accessible APIs to generate a working model of the system — it’s only a matter of time before they start working with banks to bring it to the public.
Is Nestlings the future of saving? Maybe. Regardless of whether it is, it is clear that companies like Thought Machine will continue to bring the accessibility, and lessons, of gaming into other industries to help break down barriers, and make mundane things more bright and colourful.
Nestlings is currently in development for mobile devices. You can find out more about it on nestlings.io.