The DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) cautions residents to be on guard against mobile investment platforms that use gimmicks to lure investors.
In recent years, broker-dealers and investment advisers have added game-like features, commonly referred to as gamification, to their mobile investment platforms in order to appeal to a new generation of investors. Gamification is a type of Digital Engagement Practice (DEP) used by broker-dealers and investment advisers to engage with investors, and increase engagement, on digital platforms such as websites and social media apps (sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-167).
How It Works
Gamblification, like gamification, is one of the more popular DEP techniques. Gamblification typically uses variable rewards with an economic benefit, and leaderboards that publicly display ranked information about application users’ performance, to encourage investors to engage with the platform (Ontario Securities Commission, Staff Notice 11- 796). For example, when an individual logs onto their favorite social media app and scrolls for updates, a promotion may pop up with instructions to “click here” to play an investment game and win a prize. Once the person clicks on the link, they receive a reward via email or through the app. The user may have limited investment experience or knowledge, but the clever marketing gimmick creates an easy way for them to participate in investing.
Investing is a necessity for almost anyone who plans to retire or build wealth. DEPs tend to attract individuals during a time when they are focused on developing and implementing investment strategies. In fact, overall use of investment apps has increased significantly. According to Bloomberg News, downloads of investment apps rose in 2021 by 20% over the previous year, while actual time spent on these apps increased by 90% (nasaa.org/64940/informed-investor-advisory-finfluencers/?qoid=investor-advisories).
Be an educated investor. Never purchase investments based solely on social media influencers or advertisements. Scammers often advertise stocks and strategies that are not suitable for novice investors. Use reputable resources to research investments. It is also important to understand the difference between trading and investing. Many platforms encourage day trading, which can be highly speculative and result in large, quick losses for inexperienced traders. Investing, on the other hand, involves holding securities for months or years with long-term goals in mind. Most importantly, understand the risk. Investing in securities involves risk of loss. Never invest more than you can afford to lose.
If you believe you have been the victim of an investment scam or other financial fraud, contact the DISB Enforcement and Consumer Protection Division at (202) 727-8000. You may also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at reportfraud.ftc.gov or call the FTC Consumer Response Center at 877-382-4357.
The mission of the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) is three-fold: (1) cultivate a regulatory environment that protects consumers and attracts and retains financial services firms to the District; (2) empower and educate residents on financial matters; and (3) provide financing for District small businesses.