As the society moves towards cashless payments, schools have followed suit with the POSB Smart Buddy. POSB Smart Buddy is wearable watch that allows children to make payments in school – at the bookshop and the canteen. It is linked to a parent or child’s POSB account and transaction, savings, fitness records are tracked with an accompanying app.
To be honest, I was quite hesitant about using POSB Smart Buddy initially. However, I do see the benefits, and the boys have seen it as a necessary accessory these days. When you can’t beat them, join them.
Technological advancements mean a change in usual practices which we are used to, and so we (have little choice) but to adapt. As the school has strongly encouraged the use of POSB Smart Buddy, I applied for a POSB account (which was an almost instant activation) and got my boys’ watches delivered within a week.
Pros of Using POSB Smart Buddy
As mentioned, it wasn’t much of a choice as the school bookshop was moving towards cashless transactions. With many students wearing the accessory, making payments with a watch was in vogue. Few would want to miss out, that was one main push for getting the POSB Smart Buddy watch.
The biggest benefit was tracking the spending of the child in school. Every transaction with card, watch or EZLink card is recorded in the app. That means you know exactly when junk is purchased and consumed, and if there are “unauthorized transactions” at the school bookshop. The app indicates the amount spent at each store, and you can see the week’s spending in one shot.
Savings are also captured via the app which can be transferred directly to the child’s savings account if linked. This saves the hassle of manually banking in the savings at the end of the month or year.
Since cash is no longer essential for payments, this reduces the inconvenience of forgetting to bring a wallet or food for recess. The option to pay with a pre-loaded value on POSB Smart Buddy or EZlink is always available.
If you are a lover of charts and Excel, you would love the instant data generated with POSB Smart Buddy – for accounting purposes. This can be shared with the children to inculcate a sense of responsibility.
The other functions of using POSB Smart Buddy watch are setting alarms and reminders, tracking steps taken and fitness levels.
The Downside of Using POSB Smart Buddy
Eliminating the need for dollars and cents in physical terms might be unsuitable for young children still understanding money. I think handling cash is a much more effective way to learn about spending and saving than relying on a device. Preschoolers start learning about denominations in Kindergarten 2, they learn about coins, counting them and practise paying for food or stationery. This should still be the main method of using money.
To overcome this, parents can still give their children allowance in physical terms in the week instead of purely relying on POSB Smart Buddy. Encourage the child to make purchases out of home as well – be it at the supermarket or food centre with notes and coins. It is also much easier to see the significance of savings not through a screen but by seeing the money accumulate over time in a coin bank. There is greater impact when kids can count, touch, feel the money saved.
After some experiences with the POSB Smart Buddy, the watch does not seem to indicate the amounts left allocated for the day. My child did not remember the amount he was given and thought he could not buy his lunch for the day. If the watch could display the amount of savings or allowance left or spent, this could be much more useful for a child who is still learning about money.
There were a few technical errors when we first used the watch, one had to be replaced in the first month of use as it was faulty. The customer service officer also had trouble assisting when I checked on more information on the account. It seems like there could be a lack of information regarding this relatively new initiative, and of course it was quite frustrating to receive inaccurate information.
To overcome this, payments in school can still be made through the POSB Smart Buddy card, EZLink card or cash. I do hope these options continue to be accessible by the students.
Cashless Transactions in School
Going cashless is of course convenient, and also minimizes the risk of stealing. To inculcate the use of money in kids however, it is still better to use “low-tech” means of counting money physically and setting aside a proportion of the allowance. If your child’s school is advocating the use of POSB Smart Buddy, do support it but not all transactions need to be made with it.