Bank issues primary school kids with NFC smartwatches that let them make payments and track pocket money

The POSB Smart Buddy NFC smartwatch in action
NFC SMARTWATCH: A primary school pupil checks her balance at a Smart Buddy terminal

Singapore’s POSB bank has provided 6,000 primary school children with smartwatches equipped with fitness tracking and mobile payments capabilities in a bid to “teach students how to save and spend wisely by helping them track their savings and spending habits digitally.”

The POSB Smart Buddy programme has been undergoing testing for the last twelve months and is now live at a total of 19 primary schools.

“The watch helps children take an early step towards digital payments and also monitors their activity levels,” POSB says. “Parents can in turn remotely pre-set their child’s daily allowance, send them emergency money, and monitor their kids’ spending, savings, eating habits and activity levels — all with an accompanying app.”

“The programme further creates a digital payments ecosystem within the school where the school’s canteens and bookstores are set up with digital payment terminals. Students can simply tap and pay with their POSB Smart Buddy watches.

“Kiosks are also set up on school grounds, allowing students to scan their watches so they can instantly check on their remaining allowance for the day.”

A video shows the wearables in use and how the system works:

Key benefits of the program, the bank says, include:

  • Teaching students how to save and manage expenses — Daily transactions are tracked on the POSB Smart Buddy app, with a three-month history provided, so students can monitor their savings and spending patterns over time. Students can create their own savings goals on the app, with completed goals recorded as badges. They can also buy digital Smiley Stamps at 50 cents each at their school bookstore to complete their digital stamp savings card. Once the card is complete, the savings will be automatically transferred to their POSBkids savings account. Students can also use the watch to pay for purchases at all merchants with Nets contactless terminals, such as Popular bookstores.
  • Greater convenience for parents, coupled with security — Parents can link their savings account with the POSB Smart Buddy app and manage their child’s spending by setting a daily allowance limit. They can also view their child’s purchases in real-time, and increase the daily allowance limit remotely for emergency spending money. Accumulated savings can be automatically transferred into their child’s POSBkids account. If the child loses their watch, parents can remotely disable the device instantly.
  • Fitness and health tracking — The POSB Smart Buddy watch also doubles as a fitness tracker and can track daily steps, distance travelled, and calories burnt.
  • Financial assistance scheme (FAS) support — The programme automatically credits students on FAS with their subsidies and allowances, replacing the usual coupons or vouchers. “Support is therefore provided discreetly to needy students.”

The next steps for the service is to add a location tracker and a biometric feature, the bank adds.

“The programme may soon feature an in-school locator, which allows parents to track their child’s location within the school compound (canteen, library, classroom, etc.), 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. Both features are currently in the testing phase.

“Plans are also underway to introduce a biometric payment solution, to provide an even simpler payment journey.”

“Going forward, POSB plans to develop a similar programme tailored for secondary schools and tertiary institutions.”

  • William Hugh Murray, CISSP

    When I was a child, I got a passbook. Forty years later, my godson got an ATM card. His daughters will get mobiles and wearables. Their kids will get implants or drinkables.