Say hello to our new partners!

Yes, you heard it here first – we’re delighted to announce that we’ve teamed up with the folks over at Learning Heroes to bring you a brand new suite of content.

Image of a modern office with the Unicorn Training and Learning Heroes logos

Having recently rebranded from their previous incarnation as Accredited Skills, Learning Heroes represent a business very much after our own hearts, who put engagement right at the centre of what they do. Rather than building lengthy eLearning courses, Learning Heroes’ approach focusses on short, characterful learning videos that deliver information in a way that is both fun and easy to digest.

In addition to our core compliance library, Cyber Security and Microsoft suites, this brand new material covers topics such as Health and Safety, HR, Sales, Project Management and Personal Development.

Collectively known as the ‘Workplace Skills’ library, this content is now available to our new and existing clients through our award-winning LMS.

“We loved what Leaning Heroes were doing as soon as we saw it”, says Mark Jones, Unicorn Commercial Director. “Their grasp of creating fun, bitesize learning fits perfectly with our vision to deliver effective learning that is outside the ordinary”.

“Our clients have highlighted a desire for high quality workplace skills courses to be included in our off-the-shelf suite and we believe Learning Heroes will more than deliver on giving them exactly what they want and make it memorable.”

Tom Moore, Head of Strategic Partnership Management at Learning Heroes, continued, “We are really excited to be saving the financial services sector from boring eLearning! It’s great that Unicorn Training share the same vision as us, so partnering with them to create a collection was an easy decision.”

Find out more about the new Workplace Skills library today.

Demo Workplace Skills

CLIENT DAY BLOG: 4 Key Questions To Solving The Content Conundrum

Newsflash – learning is changing. But what are the benefits and pitfalls of creating bespoke learning in this landscape? Chris Tedd, Strategic Head of Content at Unicorn, and Unicorn CEO, Peter Phillips, enlightened us!

So how has learning changed?

christeddHere’s a good quote…”The future has already arrived, it’s just not evenly distributed” (William Gibson). What does that mean in relation to learning? That the explosion in digital and social technologies make EVERYTHING possible in learning. It’s just understanding what’s relevant, how we can best use which technology to deliver what and how that’s the tricky bit.

You’ve only got to look at a timeline of when the things we take for granted, like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp etc, arrived to grasp just how rapid the exponential growth in digital technologies has been over the past 20 years. Moore’s Law they call it (Google it), but it now means user experience (UE) directly translates into learner experience and the language the highest level decision makers and CEOs use naturally today is the language of UE.

What does that look like then?

A user interface is like a joke, if you have to explain it it’s not very good. eLearning hasn’t always done a very good job of this.

We live in a world of mobile everything. Pull down to refresh, pinch zoom, swipe across – these gestures are used everywhere, to the extent that they are taking on cultural significance. It’s second nature to use these gestures so should we incorporate them into learning? If we use them, it is undoubtedly an advantage in design. If we don’t, the learning is less intuitive and enjoyable to today’s audience and people are less likely to use it.

Our day’s are made up of ‘mobile moments’ – interactive touchpoints where you use a handheld device to access apps, internet, maps, social media, games, whatever. With the fact almost half of the workforce is already made up of Millenials – digital natives – learning delivery needs addressing now.

How do we achieve behavioural change?

The $64,000 question. What simple technicques do we use to transform a campaign of learning?

Robert A Bjork’s concept of ‘desirable difficulties’ is a good starting point – you want to slow down learning (by introducing variability, spacing, testing, reducing feedback to learner) to help long term retention. You don’t want learning itself to be too easy.

The ‘forgetting curve’ tells us if we don’t use something we’ve learned within an hour, 50% of it is lost. By day 2, it’s 70%. Could breaking content into campaigns of learning to do at different times overcome this? What about using a diagnostic approach where long term learning is tested, followed up with targeted learning, and another test, to satisfy competency before following up with periodical learning (videos, podcasts, PDFs, whatever bitesize activity it might be) to top up/reinforce knowledge?


Achieving behavioural change requires the following to the taken into account when deciding content approach….

  • What is the behaviour trying to change? Is it reasonable to affect change?
  • What’s the audience – roles? Time to access learning? Educational level? Language? Experience of subject matter? Experience of doing this type of learning? Attitude towards learning? Motivation to learn?
  • Subject matter – is it being taught now, if so how is it taught, how long does it last, how well is it received, is content mature (been in business while and refined or new content)? Are SMEs available to the project as part of project team or do they need to be called from outside?
  • Is it detailed?
  • Is it volatile? Is there going to be change over time, for example, if content changes every 3 months don’t use video, but if a longer term message from the CEO etc then video maybe a good content option.
  • Delivery environemt – where (not going to do 30min eLearning course on mobile), when will they be doing it, what device will they be using, BYOD (not universal at moment), tracking, hosting (just on LMS or elsewhere eg another CMS)?

How do games and simulations fit into this?

The old learning by doing. Games appeal to some of the most basic elements of the human psyche – we like to complete things, we like to think we’re getting something for nothing, we like to be rewarded, we’re quite happy to keep doing effectively the same thing to achieve all of the above!

Chris showed demonstrations as to how Unicorn’s eCreator authoring tool had been used to create Riskford Manor, an immersive interactive ‘game’ for wannabe insurance brokers to explore, ask questions and test themselves in a ‘real life’ risk assessment situation at a fictional hotel.


Peter then showed some examples of whole business simulations Unicorn has created in airport development and portfolios of risk in commercial property decisions.

The difference between games and business simulations? Short, sharp games are looking to teach one or two things and make it stick, whereas simulations are about holistic nature of business.

But while the set of learning objectives maybe different, the principles of learning by doing are the same.

CLIENT DAY BLOG: Compliance Training – Top 5 Takeaways On Where Do We Go Next?

cs_bannerSimon Mercer, Unicorn ComplianceServe Product Manager, and Julia Kirkland, Partner at FSTP, presented a recap on what’s happened so far, looked ahead to what are going to be the hot regulatory topics over the next 12-18 months and answered the biggest question of all, how on Earth are we going to do all this?? Julia even sang a little bit. It was beautiful.

Anyway here are the top five takeaways on compliance training and where we go next…

The Senior Managers Regime and accountability will remain firmly on agenda – last week the FCA fed back on the first tranche of it accountability regulation, which took effect in March, stating that many firms have misunderstood the guidance. In a nutshell, the screw is going to keep turning. With 55,000 more firms due to come under SMR by 2018, Julia’s key message to anyone still grappling with the challenges of SMR was do not put it in compliance or HR! It has to be championed by a Senior Manager and driven from the top down. The good news is the FCA is suggesting there won’t be a ‘big bang’ on the next tranche of SMR and Certification implementation, but as we’ve seen from the first phase a year’s gap is nothing in these terms. Which brings us neatly to…

How are you bench marking people ahead of the Certification Regime? – firms who have already had to adhere to SMR regulation only have until next February – that’s five months – to put a robust certification process in place. In a quick show of hands amongst the delegates in the room, only one firm who had moved over SMR had already got their certification regime running. Under certification you are asking people who weren’t previously approved persons to take on more responsibility, knowledge etc, so how are you benchmarking these people? What competencies and/or qualifications are you using as a baseline? What are the KPIs and the core competencies required for a role? How are you going to issue that individual with a certificate? And remember the Senior Manager has the ultimate responsibility for saying they’ve signed that person off. It’s a big deal.


What’s hot in 2017 and what’s relevant to you – Julia outlined how she and her FSTP colleagues had trawled through the FCA’s annual risk documentation and picked out what they believe to be the 12 biggest areas of interest over the next 12 months. She did threaten to rap at this juncture also…regardless this is the list.

  • Governance
  • Culture
  • Conduct risk
  • SMR
  • MiFID II
  • Transaction reporting
  • Qualifications
  • CASS
  • Certification Regime
  • CPD
  • Risk
  • Business strategy and stress testing

BUT (and note the capital letters), even though some will be more relevant to certain businesses than others, the majority are interdependent on each other. They cannot be taken in isolation.


Modernising your learning approach – in the past we have dealt primarily with compliance departments, but this is changing. Within the L&D community learning is being modernised to move from push to pull learning and getting to point where learners have access to resources and tools to pull as well as utilise what’s pushed to them. This includes introducing more elements of microlearning, in bite-sized chunks that is much more informal and on demand in line with the 70: 20: 10 approach to learning. Unicorn’s eCreator authoring tool, built into ComplianceServe, has got a really significant role to play in this. In fact, by Christmas all existing ComplianceServe content will have been re-developed in eCreator, with the smaller chunks of micro learning, to follow. The benefit? By downloading the SkillsServe app learning can take place offline to sync when back online.

There is a brand new generic T&C system now built in to ComplianceServe – we’ve been building and integrating custom T&C systems and functions for clients for a long time but now there’s a generic version for smaller organisations to make use of. This includes:

  • T&C Guidance – regulation is only going way way, there will be an ever greater need to evidence competency. Guidance is all about what does T&C mean for an organisation, how do you create a T&C scheme in the first place, what things need do you need to set up a T&C system in ComplianceServe
  • Pre-defined forms and workflows
  • Offline forms – there is too much to do online for some things. Can be completed, scanned and attached as part of site.
  • Pre-built pathways – for e.g. monthly one-to-ones, quarterly action plan and final sign off, can be assigned to both regulated and non-regulated staff (couple of forms different)
  • Reporting

New FCA Measures Continue to Support Firms’ Focus on Culture

In what has been a turbulent regulatory time, one thing has remained consistent throughout – the focus on culture change in the Financial Services sector. We are now six months into the new Senior Managers’ and Certification Regime, and the FCA has this week revealed plans to add more measures to further strengthen its success across the sector.


It is reported that these new measures will continue to build on the regime’s focus on individual accountability, and clarify how firms are expected to view the roles of senior managers within their organisations. In support of the new regulations, the FCA is also set to publish a discussion paper about how those heading up the legal function in firms should be treated under the Senior Managers’ and Certification Regime.

Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, said: “Six months on and, in a great many cases, firms have made a substantial effort to get this right and embrace the importance of the key principles underlying the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, namely responsibility and accountability.”

Knowing who is responsible for what is critical for firms and regulators and we have seen genuine engagement on this from the Board down. – Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive, FCA

“Generally, we have observed that firms are taking their responsibilities seriously and have broadly got the regime right. But we recognise culture change takes time and there is still more to do. So we have to keep a watchful eye on the progress firms are making.”

Topics of responsibility, accountability and governance in financial services firms and their impact on conduct has been, and remains, a priority for the FCA with a focus on the most significant drivers of good or poor mindsets and behaviours. Ongoing focus around these new regulations is testament to the FCA’s determination to succeed in exacting cultural and behavioural change across the board – something that shows no sign of letting up.

The FCA has also confirmed to consult on a number of other areas in the coming months:

  • Guidance for Senior Managers on the ‘Duty of Responsibility’
  • A new requirement for UK branches of overseas banks to tell their UK based employees about the whistleblowing services offered by the FCA and the PRA
  • Extending the conduct rules to all non-executive directors of banks and insurers

Read more about the new Accountability Regime here.

Beating the Forgetting Curve: The Psychology of Apps in Learning

Here at Unicorn HQ we have a favourite quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Originally attributed to Benjamin Franklin, it’s not just a tag line, it’s become something of a mantra to live by…

Benjamin Franklin quote on blue background

In the rapidly changing world of digital technology, we’ve got smart-device overload. Nowadays, the possibilities for deploying learning are just about endless, as people’s unrestricted access to the latest tech means almost complete ubiquity of smart phones, tablets and portable computers. Whilst this fact presents new and exciting possibilities for changing the ways we deliver and consume learning, the basic principles that underpin the learning experience remain for the most part unchanged. What Mr Franklin aptly hit upon in his quote of which we are so fond is the idea that in order to catalyse real behavioural (or ‘real life’) change, the learning experience must be both memorable and immersive.

Enhancing knowledge retention and designing learning interventions that reinforce and give practical context goes beyond simply making courses compatible with the latest operating systems, devices and browsers. Instead, we need to go deeper into the psychological process that underpins learning and shift our understanding of the learning problem from a simple question of delivery to something more fundamental.

Image of the brain with labels representing different elements of memory

The Psychology Bit

Taking into account the brain’s capacity to absorb, retain and actively recall information, the challenge we consistently face is to find ways to deliver learning that percolates beyond the superficial layers of a person’s memory and taps into the longer term psyche. We know with the move away from traditional, PC-based linear training towards something more dynamic, that learning requirements are changing. Rather than ‘box-ticking’, organisations increasingly recognise the need to deliver learning that goes deeper to yield real behavioural change.

In order to achieve this, learning solutions must tailor educational experiences to navigate the potential pitfalls of the learning process without causing cognitive overload, or allowing learners to simply forget what they have been taught. In order to achieve this, it’s important to deliver learning experiences in digestible chunks, with follow-up and reinforcement that means learners are then encouraged to use and consolidate the learning soon after the original intervention. In the context of compliance training, this approach begins to reposition learning not simply as an annual necessity, but rather as something embedded in the regular activities of learners.

Ebbinghaus' forgetting curve graph

Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve: the longer we wait to apply newly acquired knowledge to real-life situations, the more likely we are to forget it – with the act of recall becoming more difficult the further in to the past the learning took place. learners often forget an average of 90% percent of what they have learned within the first month!

Getting Ahead of the Curve

Here at Unicorn, we believe that one such way to deliver learning that sticks is through the use of mobile Apps.

The average iPhone user unlocks their phone an average of 80 times per day. -Business Insider

Portable technology is increasingly synonymous with modern life – presenting a unique opportunity to deploy learning content straight to a user’s pocket wherever they may be. By understanding these ‘mobile moments’, we have the opportunity to form the framework for including mobile applications into wider learning strategy. Rather than looking to deploy full learning content to mobile, a more effective proposition is to focus Apps on learning reinforcement using microbites of engaging content – short videos, polls, quizzes, check-lists – with simple gamification elements, nudges and prompts to encourage regular revisits.

Apps then become a key element in a blended solution. Whilst a person might still be expected to complete a mandatory 30-minute course on a particular subject, the added functionality of an App means that we’re now able to add in extra layers to the learning experience.

My Learning Lounge App from Unicorn

When we start to reimagine learning as non-linear, we open up opportunities to draw in other psychological principles: whether the challenge and reward balance; social collaboration and knowledge sharing, or ‘just in time’ content that gives users the ability to reference bitesized supplementary learning content for reference in everyday situations. As products of modern society, we are already part-programmed to rely on Apps and other forms of mobile interactions in our day-to-day lives –social networking, news, or even the simple use of a fitness or alarm App. If learning and development professionals can leverage mobile technology as a powerful additional channel through which to deliver timely, relevant learning content, then we are already going some way towards combatting the forgetting curve and making sure that learning sticks.

Our partnership with world class games studio, Amuzo, means that we are already seeing the benefits of extrapolating the ‘sticky’ elements of game and app design into wider learning programmes. Once the underpinning psychological principles involved in gaming are understood, the potential for the scope and context of their application is limitless. Read more about apps in learning here.

Unicorn Training Shortlisted for Two Learning Technologies Awards

As another year of the industry’s most prestigious awards rolls round, we are delighted to announce that Unicorn has been shortlisted in two categories: Learning Technologies Supplier of the Year and Best Enterprise Platform Implementation.

“The Learning Technologies Awards celebrate excellence in learning technology and e-learning and have been running for ten years. There are multiple awards categories with gold, silver and bronze awards presented at a gala evening in London.” 

Best Enterprise Platform Implementation:
Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank with Unicorn Training
Having shared their experiences at our last Client Forum, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank once again channelled their vision, challenges and achievements into a strong submission that examines their L&D journey with Unicorn. Recognising the hard work and passion of HR-leads Stuart Snowden and Beccy Gilpin, the shortlist for best platform implementation is testament to just how much progress has been made to transform internal learning processes within CYB.

Tweet from LT announcing Unicorn and CYB as having made the shortlist


It is also a well-deserved nod to the committed work of our project team, and Clydesdale’s Relationship Manager, Sarah Smith.

The introduction of myLearning has made a considerable impact on all employees, enabling the Bank to offer personal development opportunities to our employees whilst using a robust, innovative platform that is easy to use providing an excellent employee experience.
 – Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank

Beccy Gilpin, Learning Channels Manager said: “Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank are delighted to be short-listed for this award. It recognises the hard work and commitment from our internal project team and the partnership and co-operation between the Bank and Unicorn Training to deliver a fantastic new learning platform for the Bank”.

Learning Technologies Supplier of the Year: Unicorn Training
Having enjoyed a busy year that has seen Unicorn acquire casual games studio, Amuzo, we are also thrilled to have made the cut for Learning Technologies Supplier of the Year. Our submission in this category considers our dual role as training and regulatory experts in the Financial Services space, and leaders in innovative learning design that strives to leverage the latest available technologies in the solutions we deliver to our valued clients.

“In these exciting times for eLearning, Unicorn is making an important contribution to transforming standards of behaviour and customer service in the financial sector,” says Peter Phillips, Unicorn Training CEO. “In this submission we sought to illustrate how Unicorn has been able to lead our clients towards more effective, innovative learning solutions including Apps, personalised learning, collaboration and gamification, while at the same time recognising their abiding needs for high quality, secure, consistent, managed compliance solutions”.

We look forward to entering the next round of judging for these categories, and would like to congratulate our peers, partners and all those who made the shortlists in this year’s highly competitive awards!

Tweet from LT congratulating all who made the shortlist for the awards

Autumn Client Forum Announced

We can’t quite believe it’s been nearly four months since our last Client Forum, but we’re delighted to announce that we’ll be back this October for another one!

Having run these events bi-annually for the past four years, we’ve learnt a fair bit about what makes a successful forum, and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming both old and new faces to this next exclusive date.

Unicorn Spring Client Forum

The Autumn Forum is a unique opportunity to explore our solutions in more depth, and learn how other HR, L&D and Risk Management professionals across a number of sectors are leveraging digital technology to solve their learning challenges.

With a rage of sessions covering platform functionality, content and industry discussion, the day aims to showcase real client case studies – giving attendees an insight into practical ways to approach their company learning. Instead of offering the kind of lofty general discussion that we often see from learning and development events, the Autumn Forum aims to demystify some of the industry’s latest ‘buzzwords’, and offer delegates practical insight into how to start incorporating new trends into their own L&D journeys.

View from the Unicorn Autumn Client Forum venue in Canary Wharf

This Autumn, the Unicorn Client Forum will take place on Tuesday 4th October in the heart of Canary Wharf, and will be brought to you in partnership with our apps studio, Amuzo. The day will be split into main room welcome and keynote sessions, and registration-only breakouts that will give attendees access to specialist slots run by our experts.

Unicorn Autumn Client Forum Banner

More information coming soon. If you have a specific query relating to the Unicorn Forum, please contact your Relationship Manager, or the Unicorn Marketing Department. This is an invite-only event.

Brexit talk: Ministers warn Britain could remain in the EU until 2019

Downing street is upping the pressure on ministers to begin implementing plans to leave the EU, it was reported this week.

Accusing Liam Fox – one of three cabinet ministers put in charge of overseeing Britain’s withdrawal from the EU – of ‘playing games’, Theresa May has made her position on government in-fighting clear. Such comments come as City sources claim that Britain’s exit from the EU is already looking likely to take place at least a year after first envisaged.

With government insiders talking of ‘chaos’ amongst the two new departments involved in overseeing Brexit, some believe that initial timelines are already well out of scope, and could be delayed even further if action is not taken soon. Indeed, murmurs about undermining public confidence have already started to surface from Tory backbench Eurosceptics.

Downing Street is the official office of the British Prime minister

However, Number 10 has dismissed talk of hesitation or departmental disarray as nonsensical, with Theresa May sending a clear message to press and public alike that Brexit is very much still ‘full steam ahead’. As things currently stand, the government looks set to trigger Article 50 – which will formally start the process for Britain’s departure from the EU – at the start of 2017. A Downing Street source said: ‘Everyone has a view on Article 50 and timetables. The Prime Minister has set up departments to implement Brexit and they need to get their ducks in a row – but we are looking at early next year. That is what the Prime Minister has told leaders of other EU countries. There is no indication that it is going to go further than that. We know that Brexit means Brexit and that we have to get on with it. It is full steam ahead.’

How this sits with senior banking figures – many of whom at June’s Annual Retail Banking Conference said they ‘welcomed the government’s decision not to invoke Article 50 with immediate effect – is still to be seen.

We do welcome the government’s decision not to invoke article 50 for now, as we do need time to plan for a stable and orderly transition for the banking sector. –Noreen Doyle, Chair BBA

Invoking article 50 will simply accelerate decisions that might otherwise have taken a decade. –Justin Bisseker, Pan-European Banks Analyst Schroders

With reports of playground power struggles between the so-called ‘three Brexiteers’ – Dr Fox, Mr Johnson and the Secretary for Exiting the EU, David Davis – Whitehall officials have apparently been braced for tension. In a leaked letter to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox effectively demanded the break-up of the Foreign Office in order to pass certain key responsibilities to his new department. Mrs May was swift to react to Mr Fox’s demands, wading in from her holiday in Switzerland to quash any rumour of such a shakeup and telling Mr Fox to ‘stop playing games’ and get on with the job in hand.

Naturally, such bickering has done little for the public’s perception of the key government figures trusted with the delicate and lengthy task of facilitating our departure from the EU.

Vote Leave Campaign Poster

On Tuesday it was also reported that Euro-sceptic Tories are already starting to fear that the government is shying away from its commitment to get Britain out of the EU – heading instead for what has been widely referred to as ‘Brexit Lite’. Plans are now thought to be in the pipeline for two cross-party groups to pressure the government into committing to a strict, public timeline for leaving. However, ministers are keen to be see to be erring on the side of caution for good reason, insisting that the potentially extended timeline is the best interests for allowing comprehensive negotiations before the departure is formalised.

As far as more clues to post-Brexit conditions, each week seems to bring new developments. Last weekend, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the billions of pounds of funding that currently comes from the EU to support farmers, scientists and other projects will now be provided by the Treasury. Estimated at a cost of close to £6billion a year, the Treasury is set to guarantee continued funding for EU-backed schemes signed before this year’s Autumn Statement – meaning relative business as usual for a number of areas previously expected to take a hit.

Indeed, confidence certainly seems to be on the up since an initially hesitant period in the immediate wake of June’s referendum. Perhaps it is testament to national confidence that, for now at least, Britain is not allowing a political shock to become an economic one.

Read more about Brexit and the recent Westminster ‘doom-mongering’ here.

Retail Banking: More Changes in the Pipeline from The CMA

“Something must be done to break the inertia of the UK banking public”, said the BBC yesterday in its report on the latest activity from the Competition and Markets Authority’s latest plans for retail banking.

Following what is reported to have been a two-year investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has concluded that not enough is being done to pressurise banks into offering significantly cheaper or better services to customers. Indeed, only 4% of UK businesses and 3% of individuals currently switch their bank in any one year. As a result of these findings, the BBC yesterday said that, “some very big changes are now in the pipeline for the way people use their bank accounts and the way banks charge their customers”.

A colourful stack of credit cards

In essence, banking’s ‘big five’ (RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander) plus the Nationwide building society each have their own significant, but crucially captive markets. “The older and larger banks, which still account for the large majority of the retail banking market, do not have to work hard enough to win and retain customers and it is difficult for new and smaller providers to attract customers,” said the CMA. Thus its latest initiative will look not only to make switching easier, but also aims to encourage customers to look elsewhere for a better deal that will ultimately save them money and offer other benefits – especially if they are likely to go overdrawn.

The topic of overdrafts has itself been a spotlight issue for The CMA throughout its investigations, as it now orders banks to put a hard cap on just how much they can charge customers for going into the red. Historically, this is an area that has caused controversy as banks have been allowed to charge more or less what they like for unauthorised overdraft use. In fact, in 2009 the Office of Fair Trading (now part of the CMA) failed in its legal challenge to overthrow the right of banks to set their own charges as they saw fit.

A broken piggy bank on a black background

Forcing banks to cap and declare their overdraft charges does not, of course, go so far as to suggest that a monthly limit on overdraft fees and charges should be set by a regulator, but it will at least make things clearer for customers. “Many personal customers, in particular overdraft users, could make significant savings by switching to a different current account,” says the CMA. It aims to bring this particular change into force by September next year.

Open Banking and the push for further CMA reform

In a bid to stimulate greater competition – and improve options for customers – The CMA is pushing for an industry-wide adoption of what is being referred to as ‘open banking’. In principle, open banking would see the financial technology industry strive to develop a computer application that would allow customers to manage accounts that may be across multiple banks through one central interface.

In recent years, we’ve seen vendor-specific banking apps pop up all over the place, but these only offer management of accounts held with that particular bank. This new, ‘all purpose’ app should also – so The CMA says – allow authorised intermediaries to provide a kind of ‘price and service comparison’, so that customers are able to check their existing provider(s) against others in the market at large, and thus potentially find other providers that are better suited to their specific saving and spending needs.

The CMA hopes that this will encourage customers to move money around – either to avoid upcoming overdraft charges, or to gain higher interest on more generous accounts.

And how soon will all this happen? The CMA’s final report, published yesterday, is just the latest in a very long line of official inquiries into the banking industry that have been held over the past 20 years. With a myriad of proposals on the table, all aimed at improving the customer experience in the retail banking arena, it is hard to say for sure which of these will be carried forward – and indeed when we might see them enforced. However, with plans around competition, overdraft caps and open banking now finalised and published, we’re told that official implementation dates range from the beginning of 2017 to the autumn of 2018. Watch this space!

For more information, visit the BBC business website here.

Why Serious Games? 6 Key Benefits

We’ve heard A LOT about game-based learning lately. Here we bring you an extract from our recent whitepaper, including a run-down of 6 benefits of games in learning, and some clarification around the difference between ‘games’, ‘serious games’ and ‘gamification’.

Benefit 1: Engagement

Image showing a flow diagram to illustrate the benefits of games for learning
With active engagement, serious games lead to discovery, observation, trial and error and problem solving, important aspects of learning (Dickey, 2005).

Benefit 2: Flow
Video games promote ‘flow’, when there is a perceived balance between the challenge and skills required – the player knows what to do (has goals) and how successful they are via immediate feedback (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).

Difference between different gaming termsBenefit 3: Sharing
Games typically allow users to share their score with others and see it displayed on leaderboards, making it competitive, which is a natural driver of human behaviour (Squire and Jenkins, (2003). This can support groups of learners, even when geographically distributed, and develop team-based skills, leadership, coordination and communications skills (de Freitas, 2006).

Benefit 4: Learning by doing
Games provide a learning environment where players discover new rules by interacting and exploring the game, rather than memorising them, leading to knowledge acquisition (Squire, 2011), and self-motivation, thus becoming more active in their own learning (Michael and Chen, 2006).

Benefit 5: Monitoring progress
The effects of corporate training applications must be measurable; the distinction must be made between ‘performance’ and ‘learning outcomes’. Game play often focuses on performance, measuring skills that have already been mastered while discouraging trial and error, but may not measure depth of knowledge gained. Assessment can be quantitative and qualitative and should allow learners to get feedback on the consequences of their actions.

Benefit 6: Risk free
Simulation allows learners to experience something too costly, risky, or ethically unacceptable in real-life (Corti, 2006). But this approach assumes players can see the similarities/context and may need support transferring the knowledge (Crookall, 2010). Many papers have emphasised how games should be used to enhance training, not replace it (Science Daily, 2010).

Another diagram showing how effective game based learning is

Want the full low-down on serious games? Check out our whitepaper here.