Innovative Digital Marketing: Gamified Banking Application Turns Health into Wealth

“Health is wealth” is a piece of popular wisdom familiar in many parts of the world and now “there is an app for that”, too. The famous trademarked slogan is all the more relevant since the app happens to be designed for an Apple wearable device. Emirates NBD used a gamified platform to increase its deposits while encouraging users to keep in good physical and financial shape.


The leading UAE bank, Emirates NBD, prides itself on being “a front-runner in digital banking innovation and recently launched  the Emirates NBD Future Lab to promote and implement fintech innovation. The Bank is also about to release EVA, the region’s first intelligent voice-based and chatbot virtual assistant for banking in the Middle East and North Africa.

But Emirates NBD has also been a frequent reference in advertising and marketing in recent years, for example with its Bollywood-soap-opera-inspired DirectRemit campaign in 2014. “No More Drama”  was created by advertising agency FP7/DXB, for the big UAE remittance market, 50% of which is made up by transfers to India.



Another creative marketing campaign turned the bank’s ATMs into “culture dispensing machines”, creating a fun and original “learning channel” to promote UAE culture and history.



Emirates NBD Fitness Account

In December 2015, Emirates NBD launched its “Fitness Account” program and app, designed especially for the Apple Watch. Introduced as “a first-of-its-kind mobile banking platform”, it drew vast UAE and international media coverage and soon earned recognition from the global banking and creative industries (most recently in October 2016, at the Efma Accenture Innovation Awards in Barcelona).

The goal: attract more deposits

Problems addressed by the campaign: UAE has an obesity problem, with 60% of the population reportedly overweight or obese; SME and individual, non-business bad debt is an ever-present concern for banks and weighs down on their profitability.

Desired changes in behavior: motivate people to work out more and to save more


How it works:

  1. Open a fitness account with Emirates NBD’s mobile app and download the free fitness app.
  2. Sync the app to to your Apple Watch.
  3. Set daily goals in number of steps and follow your progress.
    The more you move, the more you earn: 0 steps/day – 0.2%; 5,000 steps/day = 1%; 12,000 steps/day = 2% interest

  4. Once you complete a daily challenge, decide what amount to transfer from your current account to your fitness account
  5. Earn extra rewards from Fitness Account partners (free insurance coverage, gym membership, retail vouchers, etc)

Marketing approach: gamification. Users are invited to earn points, move up through challenges and levels, and track their own progress, just like they would in a game. But since it all takes place in a real-life context, Emirates NBD account holders “play” by taking real steps and walking longer distances, and “win” higher interest rates by exercising more and by setting aside more funds in their special fitness savings account. Overall progress is thus ultimately measured in accrued savings.

Enabling technology and marketing channel: mobile and wearable tech; Apple Watch, the Emirates NBD mobile app and specially created Emirates NBD Fitness app..

Partnerships driving user adoption and engagement: Apple. Adidas, MetLife (insurance), Fitness First (gym), Beyond Fitness (retail).

Campaign results (as of February 2016):

  • 99% positive sentiments
  • $230,000 earned media, endorsements across local and regional media
  • In just one month: (a) 53 million steps. (b) AED 16.07 million saved.


  • Winner of Efma Accenture 2016 global distribution & marketing innovation award, Best New Product/Service, Bronze:

“An idea whose time has come! Value-based behavior incentives were the one missing piece from wearable device models.” (EFMA/Accenture)



Says Pedro Cardoso, head of Multichannel and CRM at Emirates NBD:

“With the Fitness Account we have taken a very different approach to wearables and combined the features of a lifestyle app with a banking product that turns health into wealth.

Offering customers an opportunity to earn higher interest on their balances linked to number of steps they walk or run daily is a great example of the endless opportunities for innovation in modern-day banking to enhance the customer experience.”



Featured image: Online ad by Fortune Promoseven Dubai advertising agency (McCann World Group)


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