Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: POSB Smart Buddy Programme

When the news first broke out in August, that Primary School children can use the POSB Smart Buddy Watch to make cashless purchases in the school's canteen and bookshop, many parents (at least those around me) were very angry and upset about it. But the POSB Smart Buddy programme is not compulsory, it will not be taking over cash payments in primary schools, it's just offered as an alternative option that some parents can choose for their children. :)

As my son's Primary School is one of the schools in the pilot POSB Smart Buddy programme, last year I had already seen the systems installed in the canteen stalls and bookshop when I was doing Parent volunteering in the school! I noticed then that only the Primary Fours and the students on the Financial Assistance Scheme (they get to receive daily pocket money from the school) were the ones using it. There was also two points in the canteen where students can go to check on their balances!

While I personally feel that it's very (VERY) important for children to learn and build a solid foundation about money from young - that is through daily practising of buying & paying in notes & coins and collecting back the correct change (if any). Yet I also know the hard truth....  Technologies have changed tremendously since my parents' era to mine and now to my children's. Their future is gonna be very different from ours, just like how mine is different from my parents'! I cannot stop the world from evolving, and I do not want to hinder my children from adopting new technologies that will be their future. Whenever I can, I want to be there to experience the new technologies together with my chlidren, so that I will not be left out and I can advise my sons about any dangerous, if any.

So, when I received the invitation to find out more and trial the POSB Smart Buddy Programme, I immediately sign up for it! I am sharing with you what i learnt about the programme and our experience.

What is POSB Smart Buddy?




POSB Smart Buddy is the world’s first in-school savings and payments wearable on your child’s wrist. It is an optional programme which outfits schools with digital payment infrastructure, provide students FREE watches with digital payment and fitness tracking capabilities, and comes with a mobile app for parents. It lets your child tap to pay in school and at selected merchants, check on balances, and track fitness levels. All with a tap on the terminal or a simple push of a button. Parents are able to manage allowance, monitor transactions made and more.

It's very intuitive and simple to use for both students and parents

Student buying and paying for an apple at a stall in the canteen


Student checking her Smart Buddy Balance


What I Like About POSB Smart Buddy

  • Convenient
    • Easy setup of daily allowance, so you will never forgot to give your child money. This is especially good for forgetful parents or children.. So your child won't have to borrow money from mine! 😁
    • You can also change allowance limit instantly if additional allowance is required
  • Track and Monitor Spending
    • Able to know what child is eating or buying in/out of school in real time. Now the child cannot lie to you about what he buys anymore! 😂  This is especially good if you have a child that always skip meals to spend money in bookshop! 
  • Real Time Update
    • In school Location Tracker (time in / time out) - You can know when your child reaches and leaves the school
    • Bus Tracker (time in / time out & location) - You can know when your child board and alight the school bus
  • Auto Savings 
    • Leftover allowance automatically transferred into ePOSBkids Account on a monthly basis, so there is no more the need to lug bagful of heavy coins to bank in! No need to pay any charges too!
  • Personalisation - Input name via APP to be shown on the screen of watch, so when misplaced, school can identify who the watch belongs to
  • Safe - You can disable band function immediately, in case of theft/loss of band!
  • Bond with Child through Healthy Lifestyle 
    • Watch works as a steps counter to track calories burnt and distance covered! If you are using a health tracker too, you can now compete with the child to see who walks more steps a day! Trust me, this is a very motivating factor for you and child to move more!
  • Built In Rechargeable Battery - But not to worry if you had forgotten to charge the watch! Your child can still make payment even when the watch has no battery!

What I Wish Smart Buddy Can Do Too

  • Make it Touch Screen so that it can be even more intuitive to use for students, currently if they want to see the different modes, they have to keep pressing a small button at the side. Some options require different press timing to view. 
  • A built-in GPS tracker to check child's location
  • Make Phone Calls
    • Many schools actually do not allow students to make phone calls from the General Office, so students have to learn to use the pay phone located in the canteen using coins. 
  • Provides Two Way messaging - an alternative to making phone calls. 
  • Towards Totally Cashless and Cardless, so child can really do without a wallet 
    • It will be really cool if the watch can include the details of the Students' CEPAS concession card to allow them to take public transportation using the watch! 
    • Watch can be use to borrow Library books too! 
  • More Personalisation Options - to change screen / strap colours etc
  • Too Virtual
    • As it's connected to my own personal savings account. The money the child saves is actually still within my bank! He is basically withdrawing from my bank up the the limit amount that I set for him daily! Whatever that he did not spend to him is his savings, but to my bank account it's simply just my own money! 😂  I must be mindful not to accidentally spend his savings away before month end, else there will be no more savings left for child! 😂 

Our Thoughts

Big Brother tried it a few times in his school, but he told me he actually prefers his own GPS Smart watch that he had been using. Well, I can understand why, his own watch is in his favorite color, it is touch screen and has a customisable face which shows a cute cartoon Captain America. And it also allows him to check his timetable quickly! He can also use it to call me if needed (but very very rarely). So, the POSB Smart Buddy might not be appealing to children who are exposed to even smarter watches. 😂

Nevertheless, I think the Smart Buddy is something that you do not have to let the child use every day. You can decide how you wanna adopt it - like use it on days where there is no PE only (because his school requires students to remove watches and wallets for PE lessons), or only during school holidays, or on days when you ran out of cash to give to your child for pocket money! 

For me, I couldn't resist so I tried to use it for myself. It's really so convenient that I seriously think POSB / DBS should offer something similar to adults! Not everyone of us can afford an Apple iWatch!! I am someone that seldom go to the ATM to withdraw cash, simply because sometimes ATM machines are too out of place for me. So my purchases are usually made through cards as I am almost always out of cash! 😂  Imagine this - It's a common scene where I am carrying my sleeping 4 year old (or a lot of barangs for the boys) and paying for something. I had to dig in my bag for my wallet and I usually paid with my Paywave just so I do not need to sign or key in any pin! As I am not using cash, I do not need to struggle to put back any change into my wallet. This NETS watch is a game changer for me! I love how super duper convenient it is that I do not even need to open my bag to make payment!

So, now I am sharing the Smart Buddy Watch with my boy! I use it whenever he is not using it! 😀

Having tried the POSB Smart Buddy, it does offers me a glimpse into the cashless future that our government is talking about, and I really hope that they can plan and integrate it as much as possible so that we do not have to bring so many different cards out for different purposes! I am looking forward!

More Information

If you wish to find out more about the POSB Smart Buddy programme, please visit www.posb.com.sg/smartbuddy or email posbsmartbuddy@dbs.com.

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