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POSB Smart Buddy Programme

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Did you read about the news that primary school students can now use a smart watch to pay for their purchases in school? When I first read the news, I was quite skeptical of the idea. Firstly, I am not a techie person. Secondly, I believe that young children learn better with hands-on experience using real cash. Lastly, what happens when the child lost or misplaced the watch? As a first-time parent of a child starting primary school next year, I already have a lot of worries, now I still have to teach him how to use the watch responsibly?

When I received an invitation to learn more about the POSB Smart Buddy Programme, I wasn't sure if I wanted to attend, because it is like contradicting to what I had previously thought of the programme. Anyway, the primary school that Big J is attending next year is one of the pilot school on the programme. During the school open house, we had already seen the students using the watch to buy their things. Big J was saying that he wants to have the same watch so it is easier and faster for him to buy his food during recess. So I thought it's better for me to find out more about the Smart Buddy Programme. I'm really glad that I went with an open heart and some of the concerns that I had are actually not that serious.

What is the Smart Buddy?



The Smart Buddy is the world’s first in-school savings and payments wearable on your child’s wrist. It is not only a watch, it also allows your child to tap to pay in school and at selected merchants, check on balances, and track fitness levels. The watch is link to the Smart Buddy App, where parents can mange the daily allowance, monitor the transactions the child has made and more.

Source: POSB

How it Works


Since this programme is targeted at primary school students, the watch is made to be very simple and easy to use. Students just need to check the amount is correct before tapping to pay. They can also check how much they have left at the balance checking kiosk in school.

For the parents, they will be notified of the transactions their child has made via the Smart Buddy App, real-time!

Source: POSB


I recently let Big J tried out his Smart Buddy at Popular Bookstore and everything is so simple!
1) Pass your items to the sales assistant
2) Check that the amount shown is correct
3) Tap and you are done!

A post shared by Jolin (@thejsarena) on

Features of the Smart Buddy


Easy Setup of Allowance

Parents can easily set up how much allowance they want to give the child. They can choose to give more on certain days when there are extra activities in school. Parents are also able to change the allowance limit instantly if the child needs any emergency money. This means parents won't have to worry about forgetting to give allowance or having to rush down to the school if the child needs extra money to buy something urgently.



Tracking of Expenses

Parents are able to track and monitor how the child is spending his allowance. Children will not be able to say that they have eaten their food when in fact the money is spent in the bookshop. At the end of the day, parents can also use this to discuss with the child if they had spent their money wisely. I feel that this will place some sort of responsibility upon the child as he/she have to be accountable for where the money was spent. If there is not such record, the child will most likely to say that he has forgotten where the money went.

Source: POSB

Auto Savings

The allowance left over after each day will be the savings. At the end of each month, these savings can be automatically transferred to the child's ePOSBkids Account, if the child has one. For children who do not have the ePOSBkids Account, parents can also deposit the amount of savings shown in the app into the child's account via ibanking. This means that parents do not need to lug a big bag of coins to be deposited into the child's bank account.


Source: POSB

If you are familiar with with National School Savings Campaign, the Smart Buddy also offers digital tracking of the POSB Smiley Stamps. Students can purchase the digital stamps from their bookshop using the Smart Buddy and upon completion of the stamp card, the stamp savings will be automatically deposited into the child's ePOSBkids account. No more worrying that the card will go missing again!


Safe

Remember I mentioned earlier about my worries of the watch getting lost? Parents can immediately disable the watch through the app in case of theft/loss of the watch. And if the watch is subsequently found, the watch can be enabled again.

Source: POSB

Health Tracker

Other than being a watch and payment option, the Smart Buddy also works as a steps counter to track calories burnt and distance covered. Big J has been wearing his Smart Buddy because he wants to record how many steps he took.


(Upcoming) Location Tracker

They are already testing the possibility of including an in-school location tracker and a bus tracker. This allows parents to track the child's location when they are in school and also when their child boards or alights the school bus.

Source: POSB

How to Get It


Smart Buddy is only available for primary school students whose school is on the programme and it is FREE! Currently there are 19 schools on board the programme. You may check the list of participating schools here. The school will be sending you details of how to register for the programme. For parents, you will need to have a new/existing POSB Savings or DBS Savings/Current Account, which will be tagged to your child’s watch. You're also encouraged to register your child's ePOSBkids account for the auto-transfer of monthly savings.

Verdict


So have my questions been addressed? I would say yes and it has opened up new perspective with regards to learning about using money.

Firstly, the Smart Buddy is an alternative payment option available to the students. This is not a compulsory programme and parents can decide if they want to let their child use the Smart Buddy or the real physical money. Parents can also choose to let the child use the Smart Buddy on certain days or when the child is older, like from P3 onwards. This means the child can still learn how to count physical money and be exposed to the fact that Singapore is moving towards a cashless society as part of the Smart Nation vision.

As for learning about the value of money and saving, it doesn't have to be done by only using physical money. The tracking of expenses and savings function of the Smart Buddy serves as accountability of the child's spending. He will have to be responsible for how he spends his allowance because everything is tracked and he can't lie about it. As parents, we also need to spend more effort to teach him about the value of money, how much he can spend and why it is important to save.

The Smart Buddy is very easy to use. There is no need for the child to fumble for coins and figuring out the change to get back. I'm sure many children face the problem of forgetting to get back the change. This means that Big J can buy his food faster and has more time to eat. This is one of my worries that he will not have enough time to finish his food during recess time. Because everything is so easy, spending money is easy too. Thankfully, I can set a limit to the amount of pocket money he gets on the Smart Buddy App, so he won't overspend. And during times of emergency, I can also easily give him extra allowance via the app.

I also do not need to worry too much if the Smart Buddy is lost because I can easily disable the watch via the app. At the most, I will only lost the amount of allowance for that day.

Lastly, as with all new initiatives, there are bound to be people who accept it and people who reject it. As part of Singapore's Smart Nation vision, it is inevitable to avoid technology completely and children actually catch on technology faster than we adults do. What we can do is to embrace it and guide our child along and learn together.


POSB Smart Buddy

Web: www.posb.com.sg/smartbuddy
Email: posbsmartbuddy@dbs.com

Download the Smart Buddy App at:
App Store | Google Play


Disclaimer: We were invited for a media preview of the Smart Buddy Programme for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was involved. All opinions, texts and photos are mine, unless otherwise stated.

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