When Centier Bank asked if anyone would be willing to open a gamified savings account for a risk-free chance each quarter to have an extra $10,000 deposited into it, the offer turned more than a few heads.
The Merrillville-based bank, which has a Fort Wayne location on Dupont Circle Drive, announced in mid-October it had started making that offer across the country with the recent launch of its digital-only, prize-linked Billinero savings account.
A month after the announcement, it already had new customers coming to it from Illinois, Connecticut, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina and Virginia as well as Indiana, opening Billinero accounts. Arkansas and Oregon were the only states allowing the gamified savings accounts where they had not yet caught on.
“The majority of Billinero’s current players reside in Indiana, which is to be expected as we have a nearly 125-year history in the state. Most press coverage has been in Indiana,” said Chris Campbell, a senior partner at Centier.
“However, we are seeing momentum gain in multiple states, and are collaborating on marketing efforts to bring in more players from the states where Billinero is available.”
Savers are opening the accounts to be included in Billinero’s $10,000 quarterly and $1,000 monthly drawings.
When players sign up for Billinero, they provide the same kind of personal information they would for a savings account at a traditional brick-and-mortar financial institution.
The accounts were paying an interest rate of 0.05% on Nov. 12, which was the same rate as a regular Centier savings account, which does not offer clients the opportunity to win monthly or quarterly prizes, Campbell said.
“Billinero is a digital product offered by Centier Bank. It was developed on a separate platform and is independently supported through a new, third-party relationship,” he said.
Centier let its clients know about the new digital savings accounts in September and soon they were opening Billinero accounts “as one would with a vacation savings fund, home improvement fund,” Campbell said. “We are pleased with the reaction from our existing Centier customers.”
“Centier clients and non-clients are generally intrigued by the incentive Billinero offers, and since launch, our downloads have increased steadily, which tells us that the model is piquing interest,” he said. “We developed this product with the belief that incentivizing savings through the potential to earn these cash prizes would entice more players.”
The players are not allowed to have multiple Billinero accounts, but they can increase their chances in a drawing by entering it a maximum of 12 times.
They receive a coin providing a right to enter a Billinero drawing for each deposit they make of at least $25 in their digital savings account.
Savers may use no more than a dozen of these coins per month to enter a monthly drawing, and the number of billineros — or quarterly drawing entries — a saver is allowed to make is capped at 12 per quarter.
Except for the deposit requirement, no payment or purchase is required to enter or win. Winners are selected randomly, In addition to news releases, notices of their prize awards will be displayed in a Billinero app and announced on Centier social media and in an e-blast to current players.
“The goal is that with the incentive of a chance to win a cash prize, players will make savings a regular habit, and can watch their accounts grow,” Campbell said.
“Each qualifying deposit generates a single coin, provided the monthly limit of coins has not been met,” he said. “You can earn up to 12 coins in a month, and up to 12 billineros in a quarter.”
Billinero is not the only gamified banking product available in the United States, but those launched by other institutions are limited in their scope and scale, typically to an individual state, Campbell said.
“That’s how we wanted to differentiate ourselves. We are seeing prize-linked savings accounts pop-up more frequently in banks and credit unions across the country, after being widely successful in countries like Great Britain and South Africa,” he said.
“Billinero is a way to extend our footprint without disruption to our current infrastructure, as we continue to lead the industry in prize-linked savings accounts.”
As traditional banking practices evolve, advances in technology are creating new behaviors when it comes to spending and saving, Campbell said.
“Hometown banking, in the traditional sense, is becoming rarer as market disruption becomes more frequent,” he said.
“Having a digital-only product like Billinero gives us flexibility to innovate, experiment, and pave the way to the future of banking.”
The bank launched a new referral process Nov. 12, which can earn players an entry into the monthly and quarterly drawings. More information on the process was available at https://billinero.com/referrals.
“While Centier Bank will remain Indiana-based and is committed to our ‘Not For Sale’ promise, Billinero gives the bank the opportunity to show out-of-state clients what makes banking with Centier a special experience, while also helping nurture financial literacy and encourage savings with a fun, game-like approach,” Michael Schrage, president and CEO, said in its announcement.
“Billinero gives us the opportunity to expand our footprint beyond our existing markets. We are excited that this mobile application will bring awareness and tangible support for financial education.”
The name Billinero is a portmanteau of the words “Bill” and “Dinero,” which is Spanish for “money,” Campbell said.