Innovation Case Study: POSB Smart Buddy

POSB Smart Buddy is the world’s first in-school savings and payments programme. Smart Buddy is revolutionising how money is handled by digitising the end to end journey and in the process helping to cultivate sensible savings and spending habits among young students in an interactive & engaging manner, writes Douglas Blakey

It is less than a year old but POSB’s Smart Buddy mobile app is off to a flying start allowing parents to remotely manage their children’s spending and savings, while empowering students to monitor their own finances.

Success to date has been impressive. By the end of 2017, more than 30 primary schools had come on board. Further roll outs in 2018 will bring the benefits of Smart Buddy to about 190 primary schools.

Smart Buddy is fitting out schools with digital payment infrastructure and providing students watches with digital payment and fitness tracking capabilities, and comes with a mobile app for parents.

Parents link their savings account with the mobile application and effectively manage their child’s spending by setting a daily allowance limit in advance.

POSB Smart Buddy also features a wearable watch for contactless payment capability.

The free POSB Smart Buddy watch also doubles as a fitness tracker and can track students’ daily steps, distance travelled, and calories burnt.

Parents can check their child’s fitness using the app as well as tracking their child’s expenses and savings in real-time via the accompanying app.

Parents can also choose to transfer accumulated savings automatically into their child’s POSB kids account, helping their children to cultivate a saving habit from a young age in a digital and relevant way.

For POSB there is the immediate benefit of reduced cash handling costs as Smart Buddy is helping to displace cash in the system.

The Smart Buddy programme also boosts Singapore’s SMART Nation agenda to boost the digital economy with the added benefit of equipping children to be digital-savvy at an early age.

POSB worked with a number of local fintechs, including Touché, STYL and 3radical for the POSB Smart Buddy programme. Touché provides the biometrics payment solutions, while POSB works with STYL to provide the payments terminals for the in-school payment infrastructure, the wearable, the FAS (Financial Assistance Scheme) disbursement solution, and the upcoming location tracking capability. 

Among the highlights cited by parents were the ability to increase the daily allowance limit of their child in case of emergency, and to monitor their child’s spending and savings in real-time. Going forward, DBS/POSB plans to develop a similar programme tailored for secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

Other savings apps

  • Chip is a mobile app that utilises AI to monitor a customer’s spending habits and aids them to save money. Now looking to become a fully licensed bank and has over 25,000 users and claims to save £1m a month;
  • Moneybox looks at purchases made by customers, rounds the price up and takes the difference into an account that invests in cash funds, global shares, and property funds;
  • Plum links into a user’s bank account and learns about the user’s income, expenses and spending patterns. With this, it analyses how much you can feasibly save and puts that into a Plum savings account;
  • Cleo is another app that utilises AI, but also engages differently through chatbot technology via text or Facebook Messenger with options for Amazon Alex and Google Assistant on their way.