Nowadays, I felt that I need to catch up with technology. Everyday there is a new app, a new smart watch, a new PayLah, PayNow, InstantPay?!
These days, children have a head start being born in the Internet Age. It is a walk-in-the-park to play games on the Ipad, watch a video on Youtube or even use a smart watch for payment.
Riding on the smart cashless payment trend, POSB launched the POSB Smart Buddy Watch targeted at the primary school levels. I attended the media invite recently to understand more about this initiative and how the watch works.
With this watch, our primary school kids are able to make payment for their recess food and also “steal” a buy at their favourite school bookshops. This wearable also double up as a watch (of course) and a fitness tracker.
|Paying for food at the school canteen. Photo source: POSB|
Paired with a mobile app, parents can allocate allowances directly from their personal accounts, track their children’s expenditure and savings. We understood there are also plans in future versions to add additional features such as a location tracker (within the school), biometric feature and a school bus locator where parents can track the real-time location of the bus and be notified when their child boards or alights from the school bus.
|Paired with an app on the parents’ phone. Photo source: POSB|
Besides using the watch in schools, students can also use it at participating merchants such as Comfort (taxi), KFC, Pizza Hut, POPULAR, Sheng Siong and https://www.ourbeautifulplanet.org/best-cycling-watch/ for other types of watches. There are definitely plans to bring more merchants on-board.
|Xi En paying for items at POPULAR book store.|
As Xi En’s school has yet to sign on to the program, we tested the watch at POPULAR and here are what we (or rather I) felt after the trial.
Our take on this program and the POSB SMART BUDDY WATCH:
The size is just nice with sufficient strap holes for small wrists. The strap is of a durable dark plastic material, thus it is dirt and water resistant. It is simple to navigate and comes with clear digital numbers.
|I like the clean-cut and simple design.|
The app on my phone shows me exactly how much money I can allocate to him daily and I can also allow him (or not) to sign on using his own ID and password to check his own savings. There are “ savings goals” that he can set and work towards. The fitness tracker is Xi En’s favourite feature as he was intrigued by the steps and distance covered. If the watch is lost, parents can quickly disable the functions remotely as well.
Currently more than 24 schools are on-board and the general feedback had been positive. Parents with kids on the program liked how they can increase (or decrease) allowances with just an app, monitor what their kids purchase in school and encourage them to save. I can imagine that it would have been useful if my son suddenly need a dollar to buy a marker refill. he can just ring me from the general office and I can “send” the money to him almost immediately. It would be interesting to know his food selection in the school canteen as well and if he is telling me the truth!
Going digital also means that the school canteen vendors do not need to touch coins/bills while preparing food for the students – now that is a big plus.
On the flip side:
The first thought which came to my mind when the watch was introduced in the news: Hey! Will this prevent my child from learning how to count money? Not being able to touch and feel the coins/bills, will he understand the true value of money or will he think that money grows from watches?! *gasp*!
But one incident changed my viewpoint. I was having coffee with some clients from Beijing. They wanted to foot the bill but dug so deeply into their wallets for some loose change that I was almost embarrassed. They explained that they seldom need to bring their wallets out in China as almost all payments are done via the phone (QR codes mainly). And this was after our PM Lee’s National Day message on wanting Singapore to be a “Smart Nation”. My clients felt that Singapore is backwards in this aspect!
The folks at POSB emphasized that this initiative isn’t meant to be the ONLY mode of payment, but to be one of the available resources for payment. Indeed so. Though there isn’t an absolute need to digitalise everything, we cannot stand sit forever. Teaching the concept of counting money, instilling the value of hard-earned money, educating the younger generation on money sense – all these are still very important morals and lessons. I don’t think the schools intend to fully digitalised teachers! And we parents continue to play a big part of teaching our children about the dollars and coins. Having said that, when it’s Eizac’s turn to enter Primary One, I will still prefer him to learn how to carry a wallet with his pocket money and to be able to count the right change after buying a bowl of noodles during recess. The basics should still precede while the digital enhances the learning in my opinion.
|When it’s your turn, baby.|
As for my 8 years old, Xi En continues to track his savings in an exercise book and at the same time, enjoys tapping the POSB Smart Buddy Watch when we do visit one of the participating merchants. A marry of old-and-new I call it. We embrace technology as it comes along, but not forgetting to stay rooted with the basics.
As POSB Smart Buddy Watch is still in the introductory stage, we hope to see more enhanced features such as the GPS tracking locator function which will help busy parents. Schools or parents who wish to find out more about the POSB Smart Buddy programme can visit www.posb.com.sg/smartbuddy or email firstname.lastname@example.org.