'It's really magical when you give kids opportunity to make their own decisions': Finance app Spriggy helps parents manage their kids' money in a cashless world

Spriggy founders Mario Hasanakos and Alex Badran.
  • Family finance app Spriggy has amassed more than 430,000 users as it enables Australian parents to teach their kids about money.
  • The platform provides kids with prepaid cards, which parents retain total control over.
  • The Sydney-based startup which is run by a team of 30 is backed by Mike Cannon-Brookes’ private investment fund Grok Ventures.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Spriggy founders Mario Hasanakos and Alex Badran never set out to make a financial app for kids.

A physicist and mathematician respectively, the duo could have gone down very different paths before a serendipitous meeting at Citibank led them to strike out on their own.

“Banking was a crash course in how money works and we realised there’s so much complexity that separates people from their money,” Hasanakos told Business Insider Australia. “We initially wanted to help adults be better with their money, but quickly realised that we had to start a lot younger.”

The concept for Spriggy was born, which essentially attaches training wheels to personal finance. For $30 a year, kids are issued with prepaid debit cards that can be topped up and controlled via the Spriggy app.

“They can set up chores for the kids to complete in order to earn pocket money, and kids get a version of the app that teaches them about spending and saving,” Badran said.

It’s an idea that has found a groundswell of interest in Australia, amassing more than 430,000 users since it was launched in 2016, and garnered investment from the likes of Grok Ventures, Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes’ private investment fund.

“What we try to do is provide the kind of functionality so that parents with their kids can make their own decisions,” Badran said, noting the “sweet spot” is with kids between eight and 14 years of age. “It’s really magical when you give kids as much opportunity to make their own decisions and at the same time make it safe.”

“You see all the different family personalities and types of parenting coming through. It’s very cool to see how the hoarders, the spenders, the shufflers, the parents who are accountants, how they all use the app.”

The card blocks all types of transactions that would be deemed inappropriate and allows instant transfers to help out families who find themselves in a pickle.

“I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had just really grateful parents messaging to us and say this really was an absolute lifesaver for them because a child was in soccer practice and something happened and they couldn’t get a lift,” Hasanakos said.

“Instead, the child was able to grab a taxi and pay with a Spriggy card with money that parents sent to them in real-time. You just can’t do with cash.”

Therein lies perhaps one of the key drivers behind the app’s success. While cash was already in decline prior to COVID-19, it has completely disappeared from many households during the pandemic

It has taken the tangibility of money with it. Instead of being armed with dollars and cents to remind their kids of the value of money and how to use it, parents are in desperate need of a way to teach the fundamentals of money in an increasingly cashless world.

“Anecdotally, we’re hearing families who are dropping cash for the first time and finding a way to pay their pocket money to kids digitally, and giving Spriggy a try.” said.

“I think the impact of COVID like it has in so many sectors has only accelerated our uptake and got people used to what is really going to be the future of money.”

The appetite has both looking to spread Spriggy further afield and taking financial education global.

“Some of the things we’ve learned are central to making a difference around the world and that’s definitely one of our goals, to take this show on the road and reach more young families,” Hasanakos said.

While the change is propelling the app forward, many things remain the same.

“One of the most controversial subjects we come across is families trying to figure out whether they should pay kids for doing jobs around the house or whether the kids should do their chores simply as part of being part of the household,” Hasanakos said.

“We don’t pick a side. We just allow families to make those decisions on their own.”

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