Singapore

Watch how you spend, mum and dad are tracking

Watch how you spend, mum and dad are tracking
An Admiralty Primary School student scanning his Smart Buddy watch at a kiosk to check the balance of his pocket money for the day. Photo: Esther Leong/TODAY
Published: 8:55 PM, August 16, 2017
Updated: 12:21 AM, August 19, 2017

SINGAPORE — From time to time, Madam Nurejah Rabian would find out that her 11-year-old son, Aqeil Danish, had used his leftover pocket money to buy stationery from his school’s bookstore.

Now, the 49-year-old housewife and mother of three boys can keep an eye on his spending in real time through her mobile phone, with a smart watch that he is wearing.

“He’s quite the spendthrift. Now, I can monitor closely,” she said. “Before that, every time we gave him money, it’s gone! I’ll see an extra eraser (or) pen,” she added with a laugh.

The smart watch was officially launched by POSB bank on Wednesday (Aug 16) at Admiralty Primary School, where Aqeil is studying. It allows students to buy food and stationery at the canteen and bookstore by simply tapping it on NETS digital payment terminals.

They can also do the same for such terminals outside school.

More than 6,000 of these Smart Buddy watches have been issued to students at 19 primary schools. The bank aims to get all students from 190 primary schools here to have this gadget within the next two years.

For students to use the watch, parents have to link their savings accounts with the accompanying mobile application before remotely setting their child’s daily allowance limit. Through the app, they can also send their child money, monitor what is being bought, and automatically transfer the child’s savings into the child’s account.

If the watch is misplaced, parents can remotely disable it.

Another feature is that it allows students on financial assistance schemes to receive their subsidies and allowances discreetly, doing away with the usual coupons or vouchers.

The present design, updated after feedback from a pilot last year that involved three primary schools, now also displays time and date. It also works as a fitness monitor and can track the number of steps the wearer takes and the calories burnt.

Some new features are being tested, which will eventually allow parents to monitor their child’s location within the school compound, and alert them when their child boards or alights from the school bus.

Mr Jeremy Soo, managing director and head of consumer banking group (Singapore) at DBS Bank, said that the device helps to prepare the children for digital payment systems in future and, hopefully, bridge the “gap” among secondary and primary school students in terms of exposure, since primary school students are not allowed to take mobile phones to school or make mobile payments.

At Admiralty Primary School’s canteen on Wednesday, students using the watch and cash formed separate queues in front of every stall, while some gathered around the kiosks to check the balance of their pocket money for the day.

Aqeil, who received his watch in March, now finds it easier to save money. He can check his savings with the watch, and not just count the loose change in his piggy bank.

Other students, such as nine-year-old Nicole Yeo, enjoy using the watch as a fitness tracker, to count the number of steps they have taken at the end of the school day. “It’ll be nice if they give girls a pink strap and blue ones to the boys,” she said, referring to the colour of the watch, which is blue.