Thai bank Kasikorn launches Facebook game to encourage SMEs

Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank has plugged into the country’s growing appetite for Facebook launching an “edutainment” game – SME Start-Up City – for Facebook to enable users to “start learning business and management skills in an entertaining way” according to the Bangkok Post. The paper reports that nearly 23,000 people have signed up to play already.

The post article outlines how Facebook is helping the bank community in a new way and whilst finding new audiences:

KBank sees the site as a great opportunity to develop a new customer base through an appealing online game, and to build brand awareness at a time when banks are competing fiercely in the small-business loan sector.

[The] bank survey found that the game players aged between 18 and 24 represented 57% of total players, and those aged 25-34 made up 32%. Most are university students and salaried workers, in line with the bank’s target group for startup SME customers. The bank also found that 60% of the players for SME Start-Up City are female.

SME Start-Up City is intended mainly for newcomers but could also help those who already have small businesses.

And of the game itself:

It features six businesses initially in two groups. The first group is self-initiated businesses: spa, clothing shop, restaurant and florist. The second is franchised businesses: minimart and cafe’.

In the game, KBank assigns initial funding of 250,000 baht per player for space rental, shop decoration, employee wages and equipment purchasing. In addition, the players can get both financial and non-financial advice from the bank.

The game sets up several scenarios, both positive and negative, allowing players to adjust and manage in line with conditions.

While Kasikorn comments on the aims of the strategy include:

“Edutainment is another key factor leading to the warm welcome for the game,” says Mr Pakorn. “We want to send a message that doing business is not a difficult thing, but you should go about it in the right way, and KBank can help to strengthen local SMEs to be a key sector in the country.”

Facebook community games such as Restaurant City and Farmville are been a major hit in Thailand with gaming itself one of the core factors for spreading word and membership of the site which has grown from 2 million members in January to close to 5.5 million today.

Kasikorn’s use of the game taps into what has fast become a major pastime for many young Thais using Facebook and the internet itself. The marketing plan is certainly innovative and, at this early stage, the numbers are encouraging, while the activity is focused on reaching many of the bank’s target demographic as per the article.

To try the game out yourself visit the Facebook page here.