Whether you've heard about it on the news or witnessed a distracted pedestrian playing the game, it's hard to ignore the Pokémon GO craze. By using GPS technology, this new mobile application enables players to catch virtual Pokémon characters who appear in their real-world surroundings. In addition, the game features marked locations where players can go to earn points and engage with others.
While this new trend presents opportunities for businesses, it also poses many risks. Since its release, there have been reports of injuries and other dangerous situations involving pedestrians and drivers distracted by the game.
We've defined a few aspects of the game that banks should be aware of, as well as best practices to help avoid potential issues.
PokéStops are marked areas in the game that are typically public landmarks. Players who get within 125 feet of a PokéStop can obtain objects to help them advance in the game. Banks should be aware of PokéStops located nearby or within private areas of their property. Extra caution should be taken if the PokéStop is near a vault or behind teller lines. To help avoid incidents between pedestrians and drivers, access to PokéStops should not involve walking through drive-thrus or other traffic areas. Banks may report a dangerous PokéStop through game maker Niantic's website.
Gyms are marked areas in the game that are typically places of local interest. Players visit gyms to either battle or train their Pokémon characters. A gym is a more active and popular place for players to congregate and should not be located on a bank's property. Dangerous gym locations can also be reported through Nianctic's website.
Lures are objects that can be attached to any PokéStop in order to lure Pokémon to its location. Lures increase the rate at which Pokémon appear and must be purchased through the app. Unfortunately, there isn't much a bank can do to control where and when lures appear. However, all lures disappear after 30 minutes so should only pose a temporary risk.
Pokémon GO has claimed the title of most popular mobile game in United States history. With the proper strategy, this game can be used to attract current and potential customers to a bank. But as the game's popularity continues to increase, banks must stay aware of their surroundings to mitigate exposure to injury and security breaches.
For further information, please contact OneBeacon Financial Services President Craig Collins at 952.852.2434.