Let’s Reward Good Behavior

My son is obsessed with the new app called Pokemon Go and he is not a lone. So, when I heard about how HealthyWage, the world’s leading purveyor of corporate and team-based weight loss challenges and financially-induced diet contests for individuals, has launched a cash prize-driven fitness challenge coined “Summertime Stepping,” it got me thinking about the mortgage industry. Here’s what I mean:

The “Summertime Stepping” program uses monetary awards to promote fitness and reward participants who take more steps while playing the game, and otherwise, whether during work hours (at lunch breaks and other apropos opportunities) or on their personal time. Participants in the Summertime Stepping Challenge also receive motivational tips and support from former contestants from NBC’s Biggest Loser TV program.

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“Game players are joining our new ‘Summertime Stepping Challenge as a way to get paid while playing,” says HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry.  “This initiative is a fantastic complement to our roster of evidence-based, highly effective team and personal fitness challenges—most of which leverage the power of ‘social norms feedback’ and other key behavioral economics principles.

It’s been well-publicized the extent to which Pokémon GO is prompting people to walk more, with one report underscoring that “millions of Pokémon Go users are suddenly getting real exercise while playing the game, which is done by walking around the real world with a smartphone” and that, as evidence of the increased activity, one fitness-tracking device purveyor found that wearers “who referenced ‘Pokémon Go’ on the device’s app took more steps [the weekend of July 9] than in the five weekends prior.” Specifically, 10,936 steps versus 6,063 taken the weekend before. This as other fitness apps also reported major increases in footsteps based on data analytics correlated with Pokémon GO dynamics.

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Participants in HealthyWage’s Summertime Stepping Challenge will pay $30 each to participate, which is pooled in a collective “pot.” During registration, participants will connect their Fitness tracker, whether a Fitbit, Jawbone, Google, Apple or any other such device, to get a baseline step count. The goal of participants will be to increase their baseline steps by 20% during the challenge, which runs August 1-August 30, 2016. Each participant who hits their 20% goal will win the challenge and receives an equal share split of the money collected, less 25% that HealthyWage retains for administering the challenge.

Contestants who appeared on past seasons of NBC’s Biggest Loser TV program are providing motivational tips to help participants stay motivated and active throughout the challenge. As upwards of 13 former Biggest Loser contestants will participate in the initiative, participants can pick their favorite coach. HealthyWage will also award a prize to the top coach in the challenge—the person with the largest team.

What does this have to do with mortgage lending? Well, wouldn’t it be great if regulators and investors provided incentives to lenders that offer a more automated process that ensures greater compliance and a better customer experience? For so long I heard lenders say that they would not embrace electronic mortgages because investors wouldn’t accept them. Today that has changed. In addition, it’s hard to maintain compliance without automating. So, those lenders that are doing it and getting it right should be rewarded by regulators and investors, right?

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