Nearly half of all Americans play video games, yet only a third have more than a thousand dollars saved for an emergency. A new fintech startup called Blast hopes to combine the increasingly popular pastime with saving for the future. Unlike other attempts to gamify savings that create entirely new experiences, Blast works alongside existing games with three ways for users to increase their balances when they play: automated micro-deposits, mission rewards and weekly prizes. By linking to games that people already enjoy, Blast avoids the difficult task of creating a hit game to reach a wide audience.
Much like Acorns—co-founded by Blast’s creator, Walter Cruttenden—and other micro-savings apps that make small automatic deposits to users’ savings, Blast automatically moves small amounts into savings whenever users accomplish in-game tasks. These “triggers” are user-controlled and available for popular online games like League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. For example, users can choose to deposit $1.00 every time they win a match or $0.10 every time they defeat an enemy player. The linked savings account provided by Wells Fargo earns 1.00% APY, and Blast can withdraw funds from a linked checking or PayPal account.
Blast partners with game publishers to reward users for playing their games, doling out set amounts to users who engage (or re-engage) with games made by its partners. The app might issue a mission to users who have previously played Candy Crush, for example, rewarding them with $0.50 for scoring 100,000 points in the game. Blast further pays out up to $10,000 each week to its users based on placement in a weekly leaderboard. Users move up the ranks by completing missions, and they earn at least some money by placing in the top half of users—more if they take one of the top spots. Thus, Blast helps users build savings while simultaneously increasing engagement in its partners’ games.
Blast is currently running a closed beta for Android users and expects to launch the full service within the next few months, though plans for a forthcoming iOS launch are unclear. Going forward, the startup hopes to form even more partnerships with video game publishers and financial services—acting as a unique bridge between the two industries to better serve its users.