Nov 4, 2017

POSB Smart Buddy Watch: Ale's Newest (& Smartest) Buddy!


​In a world where children are "growing up digital," there is little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we act and think. And like it or not, technology is here to stay but as parents, we can and should make technology work for us and within our families, values and parenting style.

I am a firm believer that there are no universal rules for parenting, and that is no different regarding the usage of technology. When used thoughtfully and appropriately, it can enhance daily life. Just like going cashless.

You may have read or heard about it in the news about the launch of a global first – the POSB Smart Buddy programme - right here in Singapore. The ground-breaking programme uses wearable tech (a watch) to teach students how to save and spend wisely by helping them track their savings and spending habits digitally.

Personally, I like the idea of POSB Smart Buddy as it helps to engage a new generation of digitally-savvy kids, encouraging them to cultivate a sensible savings habit in an interactive manner.  But the watch does more than just digital payments as it also allows parents to remotely preset 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!

And getting started is ridiculously easy.

Ale received her Smart Buddy Welcome Pack which included the Smart Buddy Watch and Payment Chip. Do note that parents need to have a new/existing POSB Savings or DBS Savings/Current Account, which will be tagged to the child’s watch. I then downloaded the Smart Buddy Mobile App on my phone, entered Ale's details, synced the watch to my phone and it was all done!

Can you tell the excitement on Ale's face? LOL.

And why shouldn't she be? Especially since I told her that the watch allows her to pay for her meals during recess in school and also at selected merchants like POPULAR, KFC, Pizza Hut, Sheng Siong. All with a tap on the terminal at the shop. And I get to monitor all via the comfort of the app on my phone.

So in case you are afraid that your child may go all ballistic and go on a tappy spending spree with the Smart Buddy Watch, rest assured that parents are able to check on their child's spending and even instantly allocate allowances remotely through the app.

Ale has to stay back for school at the last minute and she does not have enough money for lunch? All I have to do is to increase her allowance via the app and voila, no more fretting about her having to go hungry!

The amount used is debited from the parent's bank account, with a daily allowance limit of up to $100. And no, there's no overdraft. What you limit is what your child gets to spend daily. Any unspent allowance will be reflected as "Allowance Savings" under the "Savings" section on the mobile app... which doubles up as a Saving Goal for kids who are looking to save up to buy something they want. Like Ale.

Daily transactions are tracked on the mobile app, with a three-month transaction history provided so both parents and kids can monitor their savings and spending patterns over time.

So Ale spent $19.32 in one single day. But there is a perfectly good reason for that.

Because she was so very eager to test out the payment function using her Smart Buddy Watch, I let her do the honours at the POPULAR's NETS contactless terminal when I bought stationery for the monkies over the weekend.

It is that easy!

All these spell greater convenience for parents, coupled with security. So not only can parents link their savings account with the POSB Smart Buddy app and effectively 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. And should the child misplace the Smart Buddy watch, parents may temporarily disable the watch remotely in an instant. 

But that's not all. The POSB Smart Buddy watch also doubles as a fitness tracker and can track students’ daily steps, distance travelled, and calories burnt.

And parents can in turn check in their child’s fitness using the app. How convenient is that?

I also heard that 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. Plans are also underway to introduce a biometric payment solution, to provide an even simpler payment journey.

For now though, Ale is thoroughly enjoying her new Buddy!

An important thing to note about this programme is it works on an opt-in basis. There's no obligation or pressure to participate at all. For now, the Smart Buddy Watch is only open to participating schools. If your child's school is not one of the participating schools, you may send an email to the school to give them a gentle nudge. There is even an email template that you can use at the POSB website!

Personally, I love how the Smart Buddy Watch teaches kids how to save and manage expenses, and the greater convenience it brings to parents. Yes, I have heard comments about how this new form of technology may impede kids' ability to count real money but the way I see it, both virtual and physical aspects of money can complement each other.

With the rapid rise of technology in our society, embracing it and making it work to our advantage is the way to go. At the same time, the onus is on us parents - and not just the teachers in schools - to expose them to the counting of physical cash in other situations. More Monopoly playing, I guess? Heh.

Want to find out more? DBS had invited other parent bloggers to learn about the POSB Smart Buddy programme too and one of the posts was featured on, a site on innovations from DBS. Read more as to how the POSB Smart Buddy programme helped Claudia's two daughters learn the value of money, cashless.

For more information on POSB Smart Buddy programme, visit HERE.

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