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A free smartwatch to pay primary school children’s tuckshop meal and encourage savings

While sorting out her cash one evening, Ms Diana Ser forgot that she had to give her son pocket money for lunch the next day. She wished then that her son had a watch that could be used to make payments at the school canteen. She’d be able to pre-set his allowance each day or send him extra funds instantly – no need to worry about her son not having enough cash for his meal.

That ‘watch’ is now available to over 6,000 students in Singapore for free, and was exactly what the celebrity host and mother of three was wearing on her wrist as she hosted the official launch of the POSB Smart Buddy Programme at Admiralty Primary School in August.

Designed to help kids learn how to better manage their money and to give parents or schools a way to monitor kids’ savings and spending habits, POSB Smart Buddy is the world’s first in-school savings and payment programme using wearable tech. It is fully subsidised by POSB and parents can choose to opt-in at participating primary schools.

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Minister for Education (Higher Education & Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung at the Official Launch of POSB Smart Buddy

The programme is in line with Singapore’s push towards being a Smart Nation where digital payments will become more and more prevalent. So far, 19 primary schools are already participating. Schools on board, like Admiralty Primary, welcome its innovative use of wearable technology to give young kids early exposure of things to come in the future.

“It’s an experiment… but one worth trying (as we) break new frontiers,” noted Minister for Education (Higher Education & Skills) Ong Ye Kung, who officiated the launch of POSB Smart Buddy at Admiralty Primary.  According to him, while using smartphones for digital payments may enable adults to “do away with (physical) wallets in time to come”, many of our young children still do not have access to mobile phones. Giving kids a smartwatch that can perform digital payments overcomes this obstacle and allows them to become more familiar this new mode of payment.

3 Scenarios When Smart Buddy Will Come In Handy

#1.  When you want to manage your child’s finances or teach financial savviness. POSB Smart Buddy allows parents to set daily allowance limits and create savings goals for your children with a mobile app, so there is no risk of overspending.  Kiosks set up in in the school allow kids to scan to check their remaining allowance for the day. With their parents, kids can also view their spending and savings patterns over three months. Kids can also buy digital Smiley stamps which rewards good savings habits from a young age.

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A student at Admiralty Primary paying for his food using the Smart Buddy watch

#2. When you wish to track your child’s spending habits and his fitness. Parents can access their child’s detailed transaction history, and be able to see the meals their child have bought or what they’ve spent on at the bookshop. The fitness tracking function also shows the child’s daily steps, the number of calories burnt and distance travelled. In the near future, new features may include tracking when a child boards or alights from the school bus and how far they are from home.

#3. When your child doesn’t have enough cash. If your child has accidentally dropped his pocket money, or you’ve forgotten to top up his allowance, you can instantly send him extra money via the watch. Your child can simply tap his POSB Smart Buddy watch to pay inside or outside the school, wherever a NETS contactless payment terminal is available. Participating retailers where the POSB Smart Buddy watch can be used include POPULAR bookstores.

Does your child’s school have the POSB Smart Buddy programme? Find out more at www.posb.com.sg/smartbuddy.

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