People 'n' Issues

USSD ‘race’ draws record 400 000 users

November 21st, 2016
Mastercard in collaboration with Digitata Insights recently launched a gamification campaign to educate South Africans on the benefits of making safe, secure and fast payments with Masterpass.
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An interactive game to educate users on digital payments drew almost 400 000 users, believed to be a record for a campaign using the cellphone short-code system known as USSD.

Mastercard ran the campaign in collaboration with Digitata Insights, a subsidiary of Digitata, using ‘gamification’ to educate South Africans on the benefits of making safe, secure and fast payments with Masterpass, the global digital payment service from Mastercard.

The interactive game – “The Masterpass Race” – showed South African consumers the benefits of  Masterpass across digital payments channels including airtime top-up, online purchases, bill payments and in-store payments. It also demonstrated the security features, convenience and ease of use people will find in Masterpass—including the fact that they can pay with a smart app on their smartphones and leave their physical wallets at home.

Gabriel Swanepoel, Product Development and Innovation, Mastercard, said: “To create widespread adoption of our Masterpass solution, we looked for a unique, fun and engaging platform to bring its benefits to life for consumers. Gamification was a perfect opportunity to educate consumers about how digital payments can improve their lives.”

To participate, subscribers had to dial a USSD short code. Players earned points for by answering questions relating to information supplied in the game about mobile and cashless payments and Masterpass, and completed actions such as downloading and using the Masterpass app. Accumulating points got players to the next level of the game and points could be converted into airtime.

Richard Walton, acting CEO at Digitata Insights, said: “Gamification – the incorporation of game play into online marketing – is an extremely effective way to keep mobile users engaged, offering the ideal opportunity to educate them in an interactive manner.  The fact that players could receive free airtime ensured continued engagement and made the game extremely popular.”

Digitata Insights developed the USSD-based gamification service using the company’s MeMe measurable mobile media platform. “Text-based USSD was the ideal channel as all mobile users are familiar with the *111# service. It is also a prolific channel because it is device and network agnostic, which means there is potential to deliver bespoke content to a huge market, all without the subscriber incurring any charges as no data is required.”

To ensure the broadest reach, Digitata Insights partnered with South Africa’s two largest network operators, gaining access to millions of potential customers. The results from the campaign were impressive: more than 398,595 people started the race and some 153,000 reached the finishing line by completing all 17 levels in the game.

“Overall we feel that the Masterpass campaign was on par with some of the biggest USSD-based consumer engagement campaigns run globally,” said Walton. “And despite this form of mobile marketing being around for 15 years already, we’re not aware of any other campaigns that have been able to generate these numbers. We therefore feel that we’ve taken USSD-based marketing to the next level, and are now starting to realise the full potential that this form of mobile engagement has always held.”

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