There has been some buzz in social media recently surrounding the POSB Smart Buddy watches. Many parents, myself included, were concerned about how these electronics might affect the financial literacy of children.
So to be very honest, I went to the POSB media briefing with many doubts in my mind, but I also felt that it was important to go with an open mind. It was a short briefing, but very interesting. We heard about the features of the product, as well as from two parents whose children are currently using it in schools.
Spent the morning at DBS learning more about the new POSB smart watch (swipe to see more). I have to say I had some reservations about letting lower primary kids go cashless but the watch is pretty interesting, and I almost converted – just need to test it out now! It's already been rolled out in several primary schools, anyone have any feedback? . . Also, really love the ceiling accents in this room on the 45th floor – did they intentionally make it to look like a DBS logo? Very clever! 😆
Some of the features of the watch include:
Set allowances – The app allows you to set allowances for each day and this can be changed almost instantaneously through the app too. From experience, it would be super convenient in cases of emergency or where someone forgot to the child urgently needs to buy something from the bookshop, for example, composition 作文 paper. My kids have “emergency” money they keep in their wallets if I forget to give them allowances or they need to purchase something urgently. The kids can also collect stamps on the app if they save up a certain amount, although I have not explored this part of the app yet.
Track what kids eat – if you have a child whose BMI you have to keep in check or concerned about a child not eating, you are able to see what kids have bought from the school canteen. Childhood diabetes is a buzz word these days right? However I heard that in reality the stallholders might just select any item that is the same amount, e.g. Chicken rice or noodles, just as long as it’s $1. An upside is that it might be more hygienic for the stall holders to not have to handle cash.
Track expenditure – it’s so convenient if you can easily refer to the app for your child to see what they’ve spent on, it sure beats having to key in expenses manually! However I’ve been told that this works best if the child has their own bank account, otherwise the transactions will be mixed up with your account transactions, so do keep that in mind when doing your registration for a new Smart Buddy. You can sign up for Kids Savings Accounts very easily online.
Initially I had some concerns that using an electronic pay system and agreed with many parents that children need to feel dollars and cents, so it would not be ideal for young children, but after going to the briefing and listening to the feedback, I think that it could actually aid in their financial literacy. My boys have been manually tracking their own expenses from the beginning of the year, so I think after four school terms of doing so, my P1 boy is ready to move on to e payments if it was offered in his school. However it’s not being offered in their school yet, so I might let them use it at other outlets such as Popular. Actually I think I might use it as a bribe, I mean, incentive with their school work and let them choose an item from Popular or another retailer!
I also had some concerns because my children have had questions about how money is kept in banks and how credit cards work since it is so abstract. We recently opened ePOSBkids Accounts for the kids and thankfully they have coin deposit machines (FOC for kids accounts), so I plan to bring them to deposit their piggy bank money, view the deposit amount on the DBS app, and hopefully I can help them draw that link to the Smart Buddy app.
Track your child’s whereabouts – At participating schools they are able to track the child within the premises of the school, so it will bring peace of mind if the child is traveling to and/or fro school by themselves. POSB are also piloting this technology on school buses (I think they mentioned only 2 buses so far). Since we live walking distance from the school, my boys will occasionally come home on their own, so it would definitely be handy.
Just recently I was unable to locate my P1 son at school during pick up time. Each boy has a Tile device but there are limitations to this. After some worrying and waiting, it turns out he came out but went back for his water bottle and by the time he returned he couldn’t find us because we’d left our post to go searching, and after maybe 30minutes or more after release time then we were able to locate him. So an in-school tracker would have definitely been useful in that scenario!!
Track your child’s steps – as per any other fitness tracker, this is always a good way to motivate kids to get more exercise!
My takeaway from the briefing session is that as parents, we are responsible for assessing whether our children are ready for it or not for the Smart Buddy. If perhaps you find yourself in a situation where you school is using it but you feel your child is not ready, but they still want to wear the watch to school, you can always set their allowance limit to $0 and get them to use cash instead. No one is forcing you or your child to use the watch, so there isn’t really a need to get all flustered about it!
My elder P3 boy loves the look of his watch and said that he had many friends asking him about it. It has limited functions for us since his school has yet to implement the system, but I would definitely be looking forward to when it happens. Best of all, the watch is free to DBS/POSB account holders. The program is still very much in its infancy, and I’m sure we’ll see more improvements in time to come.