Pupils go cashless with smartwatches

Pupil Vernice Lim, 11, using her smartwatch at a vending machine to pay for a drink at Admiralty Primary yesterday.
Pupil Vernice Lim, 11, using her smartwatch at a vending machine to pay for a drink at Admiralty Primary yesterday.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Some 6,000 pupils from 19 primary schools can now use smartwatches to make cashless payments in their schools and at selected retailers such as Cheers and Popular.

By signing up with the POSB Smart Buddy Programme, their parents can also monitor how much the children spend and even the type of food they purchase.

POSB yesterday officially launched the savings and payments programme that utilises wearables linked to the parents' bank account.

A pilot programme was introduced in February last year.

The free smartwatches are paired with a mobile app that parents use to remotely allocate their children's allowances and track their spending.

By tapping the smartwatches on payment terminals in the schools, which include Bedok Green Primary and Henry Park Primary, the pupils can pay for things like canteen food and books.

The smartwatches can also be used at retailers that accept an updated version of Nets' contactless payment technology.

"POSB Smart Buddy is hassle- free, and makes life as parents convenient... I am able to immediately give my son additional allowance when required," said housewife Nurejah Rabian, 49, whose son is a Primary 5 pupil at Admiralty Primary.

The bank also aims to educate pupils on money management basics and help parents manage their children's daily expenses through the programme.

Using the mobile app, parents can monitor their children's spending patterns and set savings goals. They can opt to automatically transfer their children's savings into their ePOSBkids Accounts every month.

Primary 4 pupil Bosco Wong, 10, of Admiralty Primary, said he did not track his spending before he received his smartwatch in May. Now, he thinks before each purchase.

As parents are able to view their children's food purchases, they can also monitor thechildren's eating habits. If pupils misplace their smartwatches, their parents can immediately disable them remotely.

POSB hopes to extend the programme to the remaining primary schools in the next two years. There are about 200 primary schools here.

Speaking at the launch at Admiralty Primary, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said the smartwatches would be useful for children in making electronic payments as not all of them own smartphones.

But he added that while Singapore should pursue its aim to be a Smart Nation, "it is a process we must manage carefully". There are concerns for certain groups of people such as the elderly, who "did not grow up" with mobile phones and need help to be familiarised with the new technology.

POSB said it intends to develop a separate programme for students of secondary schools and tertiary institutions that fits their needs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Pupils go cashless with smartwatches'. Print Edition | Subscribe