If you’re the kind of frustrated parent who spends too much time nagging their kids to get off their smartphone and help with the family chores, then Sydney fintech startup company Pennybox may be the answer to your prayers.
Reji Eapen, a former equity analyst at BAML and UBS, and Adam Naor, who spent seven years with Google, have designed a free app to help both parents and kids keep track of pocket money. The duo describe Pennybox as “banking with training wheels” for kids between 6 to 16. It’s an idea they’ve spent a year working on and began fleshing it out in development over the last six months.
It’s designed to teach kids financial literacy along the way and has been developed with a $25,000 minimum viable product grant from the NSW government’s Jobs for NSW.
The idea was to make it fun for kids and useful for parents. The funding will be used to complete the test and launch of the app.
It also offers a few valuable life lessons — your children can pitch to do a job around the house for a certain price and parents can negotiate over its value.
“By practically going through this process on a daily basis, kids build good financial behaviour and learn real-life financial concepts of financial goal setting, budgeting, and earning money,” Naor said.
Children earn “money” on the app for each job and it goes into a virtual wallet, which they can use to take out as cash later — parents have the ability to deduct it next time they’re nagged for funds to buy something. You don’t need a bank account to use it, and that way it gives the child the sense that they’re spending their own money rather than just hitting up the Parental Bank of Home for another loan they don’t have to repay.
The pocket money tasks can also be linked to an educational program on saving and spending and there are even reports on budgeting and spending patterns, so your kids will be able to see when their lollies and Snapchat filter spending is out of control.
Parents also get updates on how their children are progressing through the lessons.
The product is still in private beta, but Naor says that lots of parents and kids have been involved in the testing.
“We have over 5,000 families that have requested early access to the beta. We have released it to a percentage of these people to get feedback, improve the product, enhance the core offering, and to learn about the most compelling use-cases,” he said.
“Kids are using the product to learn about money basics – how to earn and save money, good money habits, and how to do work, tasks, and activities in exchange for pocket money. Some kids use Pennybox in order to get rewards for reading books or completing school assignments; others for doing house-hold work.”
Naor says the most rewarding part of the app is how its got families talking about their finances, with the potential to go global.
“We are building software that scales and has a tremendous impact on bringing families together to discuss how to save and earn money and behave in a money smart way,” he said.