Standard Bank has launched the country's first smartphone and tablet game-like animated banking app for children – the Standard Bank Kidz Banking App. Available initially only to Android users, the app is designed primarily for kids between the ages of 6 and 11, and is essentially a tool designed to engage and entertain children while enabling parents to explain concepts of money management such as earning, saving, and spending
“Financial education begins in the home and the earlier on in life individuals become money-wise, the better,” says Vuyo Mpako, head of Digital Channels and eCommerce at Standard Bank. “South Africa is a country with a reputation for a poor savings ethic, and our vision for the app is to begin to teach children to save in a way that is easy, exciting and appeals to their love of all things technical”.
“With smartphones and tablets a common tool available to children, the time has come to open the digital doors to the possibilities that these devices offer for teaching essential life skills. It is vital that learning the value of money, the benefits of saving and how to spend effectively become natural skills. The child that understands these concepts learns lessons that will impact on every stage of their lives.”
The Standard Bank Kidz Banking App is set in an animated fantasy realm where colourful digital representations of South Africa’s Big Five animals maintain habitats each representing a different area of money management. For example, an energetic leopard encourages kids to complete “missions”, or chores, assigned by parents – things like tidying their rooms or watering the plants – in order to earn money.
Making the concept of money management work for parents and children, the Standard Bank Kidz Banking App, with direct integration into the parent’s banking app, allows parents to retain high levels of control and visibility over the transactions available to children, as it is parents who activate the service.
For the child the app becomes a handy way of being paid pocket money. As it is spent, debits are noted and the balance in the account is recorded, teaching the fundamental skill of budgeting to the child who can access this information at any time of day.
Taking the lesson further, parents can teach children to earn money by paying money into the app when allocated tasks are completed. Keeping your bedroom tidy, packing away toys and other missions become associated with reward and a valuable lesson is learned.
Navigating through the interactive animal habitats, kids gain a practical appreciation for the value of items, like toys and movie tickets for example, and are shown the benefits of earning and saving.
“We created the app from the premise that traditional banking services can’t simply be extended down to the youth market and it is never too early to form the foundation for a solid financial life,” explains Mpako. “So we set out to design an app, in collaboration with dozens of children, which would appeal to their understanding and love of digital devices.
“The more serious intent behind this is to address low financial literacy levels among many young South Africans, and the indebtedness and low savings rates within our greater population. For parents with strongly- developed financial skills, the objective would be to pass on the legacy of the lessons they have learned and to create an awareness of inculcating financial literacy skills within their children,” says Mpako.
In a world where digital is becoming the ‘go-to’ source for fields ranging from financial management to entertainment, the challenge is on keeping ‘edutainment’ relevant and interesting. For the younger generation this means making sure that any banking offering keeps pace with changes and innovations as they occur.
“The structure of the Kidz Banking App caters for these needs by remaining fresh and relevant as it moves the child through four key concepts in the money management cycle. They learn to bank effectively; the value of earning; the advantages of saving and how to plan their spending,” adds Mpako.
“The major benefit of an app is that it is multi-faceted and enables new functionalities to be added to meet the changing needs and aspirations of the people using it. These requirements apply as much to children as it does to adults.
“We believe that the success of the Kidz Banking App will hinge on what we can offer the earners of the future. The Kidz Banking App will therefore essentially remain a ‘work in progress’-a service that will be constantly monitored and added to, to keep pace with the rapidly moving digital environment that has become part of our everyday lives,” concludes Mpako.
The Kidz Banking App now available in app stores for Android users, for smartphones and tablets. An iOS version will follow in the coming month.