Carrots and Sticks

South Korean banks have embarked on a mission to motivate customers to stay slim and trim.

Hana Bank, the banking arm of Hana Financial Group sells an instalment savings product called “S-Line,” a Korean word that means an hourglass figure.

The more calories a customer burns, the higher interest rate the bank gives. If a customer loses more than five percent of their weight within a year, or holds a gym membership, the bank grants special rates.

Another Bank- the Kookmin Bank- has made available an ingenious smart-phone product. If a customer forgoes a cup of coffee, he clicks on an icon of coffee on his smartphone and directly deposits money into his account. Likewise if he decides to walk instead of taking a cab, he clicks on the cab icon.

If a customer loses more than five percent of their weight within a year, or holds a gym membership, the bank grants special (interest) rates.

I was amused to read these innovative schemes to motivate bank customers to lose weight. How would the bank decide whether a person is overweight or not? Every person’s idea of the right weight may well be different.

Some say that the Body mass index should be used to determine a person’s optimal weight.

Others think that other methods such as  skinfold thickness measurements, underwater weighing, or bioelectrical impedance should be used.

It also seems unfair to give different customers different rates based on their weight. What right has a bank to judge people and discriminate?

I wonder if these type of schemes would find acceptance here in India? In these days of free choice it seems very archaic for any ‘authority’ to interfere in the personal matters of anyone.

It is certainly desirable for overweight people to lose weight. But I feel it really should be their personal choice.

Creating awareness about this issue through articles or workshops is one thing. but discrimination on the basis of weight is quite another.

What do you think?



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12 thoughts on “Carrots and Sticks”

  1. Innovative, I must say! Yes, although gaining/losing weight should be a personal choice, I guess the basic idea is to get people to lead healthier lifestyles. Also may be there is some correlation between obesity and bank balance and the incentive of extra interest is a way of pulling in more such clients!

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  2. This is indeed innovative. But what seems to be the reason for this innovation?? Weight is a personal matter. But perhaps like it says in the comment above, did someone find a correlation between weight and bank balance?? 😛 Lol. It does seem weird though giving interest according to the weight of the customer!

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  3. Your header is beautiful!

    Are they seriously implementing this scheme?! How do they check whether we are telling them the truth – clicking a cup of coffee or car icon?! We are, by nature, not very sincere people! People might be hefty because of health problems like thyroid etc.

    What do they gain by this scheme, I wonder, Manju!

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  4. While I am a great one for advocating weight loss, I do not think it is right for heavier customers to lose out. What if they have a genuine genetic problem. And even otherwise!

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  5. Vinod Sharma, Shail, – I would think there would be direct causal correlation between bank balance and obesity. The larger the bank balance, the more money to spend on junk food, resulting in obesity! 😀

    Sandhya– Thanks! I took the photo on a recent trip to Ooty.
    Apparently banks in S. Korea have implimented these type of schemes. I wonder if they would be successful n India though?

    Kanagu– Nice to see you here after a long time!

    Radha– Good point! It’s not always possible for a person to lose weight, even if he/she wants to. Such persons would be penalised for no fault of theirs.

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  6. I always get very skeptical about schemes which deal with matters outside the core competency o the organization. Why membership of the gym ? Is anyone checking whether someone actually goes there ? If the membership ensures a higher interest rate (in both banks mentioned above) , do the banks have a commercial interest in the gym ? Is the bank marketing health insurance on the side ? No business entity will get involved in stuff unless it means profits. I suspect all these things they advertise… (Many years ago a Bank of Maharashtra branch in Pune insisted on people investing in FD’s of a certain amount before people could apply for lockers, and they even told this to people who already maintained FD’s with the bank (of even larger amounts). On the face of it it looked like they were offering safe deposit lockers, but this FD thing was never advertised).
    But interesting to see where all businesses in Korea try to venture…..::-)

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  7. That is indeed an innovative method of motivating people to lose weight and remain healthy. And I don’t think it is unfair, because they are only offering incentives for losing weight, not penalising those who are not.

    There is this readymade garment shop in Chandigarh that used to offer discounts to FAT people. The fatter you are the more discounts. That was when I actually berated the L&M for not measuring up to those levels 😀

    But on second thoughts, if some such scheme as in Korea were to be there in our country, i am sure people would be clicking on the coffee and cab icons all day to increase their bank rates 😀

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  8. If a customer loses more than five percent of their weight within a year, or holds a gym membership, the bank grants special (interest) rates.
    excellent idea

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