Called Fintropolis, the virtual world was created with help from Microsoft, Minecraft’s owner, and the video game developer Blockworks. Designed to tackle lagging financial literacy rates among children and youth who may have learned little, if anything at all, about how to save money, pay taxes, invest, or take advantage of credit opportunities in school. Having to gain financial literacy by making mistakes or “learning by doing” in the real world is a harrowing task, full of pitfalls and easy mistakes to make. Learning about finances the hard way often ruins some people.
Ally Bank, the banking branch of Ally Financial, is relatively new having only been around since 2009. Because of this, innovation is in the company’s DNA and the bank maintains a strong focus on constantly iterating its technology to best serve its customers and account holders. Fintropolis is one part of this important mission. While it’s a pivotal part of daily adult life, financial literacy isn’t prioritized in school, and Ally Bank hopes that its minecraft world can contribute to closing the racial wealth gap by teaching financial concepts to young users. Fintropolis is available for both Minecraft and Minecraft: Education Edition.
Ally Bank’s concept development lab, TM Studio, was instrumental in creating the virtual, educational experience of Fintropolis. As players explore the world in Minecraft, they learn through different experiences about the core components of a strong financial life including budgeting, building credit and managing debt, as well as the basics of investing. As part of the “financial literacy 101” experience, users do things like meet the mayor at City Hall to learn about taxes, open an account at the Fintropolis bank to learn about budgeting; and even take out a mortgage to buy a house in the virtual world. Players can also invest at the world’s stock exchange, and get smart on the basics of identity theft and how to protect against it when they visit the police station.
Users of the game are also introduced to different careers and how early financial decisions can impact their futures. The Minecraft: Education Edition also comes with lesson plans to connect the money concepts in Fintropolis to classroom curriculums for teachers and educators to use as a fun, easy-going way to teach their students about finances.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, Engaging Families at Retail.