Several fintechs and neobanks have recently launched new financial apps for kids and other products that are specifically designed to teach lessons in managing money.
The idea is simple: teach kids about money so they can be financially literate throughout adulthood. Their financial education is the goal but the beauty is that parents can also learn to manage money and ramp up their own financial skills as they use the apps as tools to develop good money habits for their kids.
Fintech startup companies everywhere are embracing financial literacy by providing tools, lessons and personal financial instruction for kids and adults alike.
Learning About Personal Finance
Money management lessons are not always talked about at home and only sometimes in schools. Many parents at all stages of life, millennials, Gen Xers and beyond, are intimidated by the prospect of teaching their kids how to handle spending, saving, investing and retirement because they themselves aren’t entirely confident in their financial literacy skills either.
This new wave of mobile money apps not only helps younger generations understand how money works, but it can also help parents to increase their financial savvy as well. Saving money is a habit best ingrained in young children before they get out into the world and learn hard lessons about overdraft fees and the high cost of living expenses.
Financial Literacy for the Next Generation
Fintech apps have been an answer to several problems that come with traditional banking institutions. Democratizing access to funding, widespread usage of digital payments, and banking the unbanked population are just a few of the ways that fintech apps have changed the banking landscape for the better.
Northern European countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden rank as some of the most financially literate countries. About 65% of adults in these countries have a firm grasp of the nuances of finance, but in other parts of the world like South Asia, financial literacy rates fall below 25%.
Digital tools and apps designed to teach financial literacy have the potential to reach a whole new generation of movers and shakers.
In fact, Gen Z is already surpassing the millennial generation when it comes to financial literacy. Not only do 41% of Gen Zers already own and use a credit card, they also tend to have better credit scores than previous generations as well.
Having the knowledge and tools to be financially successful is paramount in a world that is rapidly transforming into the Digital Age. The pandemic taught us that so many adults are lacking adequate savings and investing knowledge to carry them in case of job loss or industry-wide lulls.
Hopefully, this new wave of fintech apps will help our children learn how to be better with their money so that they can be prepared for anything that comes their way.
Fintech for Money Management
Three apps — YPay, Junio and Streak — work like debit cards with training wheels to provide a solid foundation for good financial habits. Young users can get early personal finance lessons on how to budget their funds with the cards preloaded with money. This money can come from jobs or gift money but it is real money which means it carries real-world lessons on how to manage money.
These three personal finance apps for kids, all from India, have been developed to teach and empower young people to manage their money more effectively. Kids can track their spending, set savings goals, learn about investing, and make payments, while parents have the ability to monitor their child’s activity and learn a thing or two as well. These apps are truly a family affair which makes them especially useful to educate kids under 12.
Founded in 2017, YPay has been a leading digital payments app, and has now created a YPay card where parents can control things like spending, transactions, and transparency with a secure and numberless card. This virtual piggy bank is especially good for younger kids learning the value of real money. Older teens might bristle at the amount of parent supervision.
The card works like any other smart card or debit card, but is specifically designed so that parents can easily put money on the card, set spending limits and monitor card usage all from the YPay app. This app would be a good way to work on setting financial goals, like saving money for a new game console or bicycle.
What sets Junio apart is that it is one of the few fintech startups geared toward young people that offer the opportunity to earn cash back on transactions. Time for a savings spree! They also offer Uber discounts and other perks that benefit kids and parents.
Additionally, parents can also incentivize their kids’ behavior with bonuses. Parents add tasks to their youngsters’ accounts and when those tasks are completed the kids receive a reward that can increase the pocket money they have to spend. So not only are they learning how to manage their money, they are also learning how to manage their time and learn skills to help them later on in life. For some parents, their own financial literacy increases as they teach kids.
The Streak card is a prepaid card that is linked to an app that features unique safety controls for kids to make transactions, earn rewards and build their savings. With Streak, teens can earn Streak Coins that can be exchanged for cool rewards.
Like Junio, Streak also lets parents tie their kids’ pocket money to tasks so that completing chores and errands is more fun. It also allows them to track their progress toward their savings goals all the while aware of how much money they have in their actual bank account. And parents can have peace of mind knowing they can instantly disable or enable transactions that can curtail the young banker’s ability to spend money.
Investing in the Virtual Piggy Bank
Fintech startup companies everywhere are embracing financial literacy by providing tools, lessons, and personal financial instruction for kids and adults alike. Here are some of the best apps for different age groups and for investing, spending and savings:
Best Investing App for Beginners: Stockpile
- Offers custodial accounts
- Allows fractional share trading
- $0 trading fees, no monthly minimum balance, no monthly account fee
Stockpile is a good option for new investors of any age, though it has a focus on kids. So, if you are a parent looking to learn about investing alongside your child, this is one of the money apps that might be right for you. The website includes a beginner’s guide to stock market basics that lays things out in a way young teens and up will likely understand easily.
Adults can make custodial accounts for children that allows the minor to own stock while the adult who opened the account has legal responsibility over it until the child reaches 18. The adult has to approve any trades, but the minor can still log in with separate credentials to monitor stocks and request a trade.
Another good thing about Stockpile is it allows for fractional trading, making things more accessible to kids (or adults) to get their feet wet without making a large financial commitment. For example, your child might want to invest in brands they know like Disney. At time of writing, Disney’s stock costs over $150 a share, so with fractional share trading, kids can still invest in companies they’re interested in without having to own whole shares.
Best Debit Account for Teens: Greenlight
- Debit card with money management capabilities
- Cash back and savings on purchases
- Accepted where MasterCard is accepted (with exceptions for purchases where there are age restrictions in place)
- Fractional shares investing options
This is a good solution for parents of older kids who want to get their child a debit card while still monitoring their spending. A Greenlight debit card allows parents to deposit money in an account for their kids and receive real-time notifications when they spend it. The app allows kids to set savings goals and receive automatic allowance deposits linked to chore lists.
With Greenlight Max, kids can also use the app to invest in stocks with parent approval. They can buy fractional shares for as little as $1, decreasing the barrier to entry. All trades must be approved by the parent linked to the account. The prices vary by plan, so parents can decide which features they want to take advantage of.
Best Savings App for Pre-Teens: Bankaroo
- Profile options for schools and families
- Compatible with iOS, Android, and Kindle
This savings account app was created by an 11-year-old and his parents, so you know it caters to the younger demographic. Bankaroo is not an investment app, but rather a digital piggy bank. It’s a good child’s account option for parents of younger children who aren’t ready to get their child a debit card or investment portfolio but still want them to learn about money management.
Bankaroo for Families allows parents to manage their kids’ accounts and schedule allowances. By default, only the parent can add funds, but this setting can be changed by the parent if desired. Bankaroo for Schools provides an online portal for educators to teach math and finance. It also allows them to create virtual point systems for students to reward good behavior and provide accountability.
Bankaroo is free, though there is a Bankaroo Plus option that allows kids to manage separate checking and savings accounts, as well as set aside money for charity and transfer funds between family members.
What Parents Need to Know
Mobile apps are becoming an integral part of the financial ecosystem, and as more economies shift away from cash spending to the convenience of debit cards and digital payments, it was only inevitable that young people would need financial apps so that they can participate in the economy. It is becoming easier and easier to find a financial app that’s suitable no matter a child’s age.
And while cybercrime remains a serious threat, fintechs that ensure PCI compliance and multi-factor authentication can put parents’ minds at ease. Many kids are already on social media and have an understanding of some of the dangers of the Internet involving personal information.
There are additional concerns that experts and parents have to worry about when it comes to their childrens’ spending habits. While the emergence of fintech apps for kids appears promising, there are some who worry about the potential negative effects of letting kids have so much control over their own spending, especially when it comes to taking risks and making investments. But adults who set allowance schedules, set up prepaid cards and help kids understand how to handle their own money, are doing a big favor for their young people.
The mobile apps that are coming to market today all include parental controls and total account visibility so that parents can help guide their kids’ spending decisions.
Investing and saving for both short term goals and long term goals requires close parental oversight so that they don’t have to learn a lesson about debt the hard way, and there are features included like disabling transactions so that kids don’t go overboard.
With new money apps on the market for teaching kids, teens and young adults, the whole family can learn how to use financial tools to reduce financial stressors and make their lives easier. Back in the day, piggy banks made sense but today, it’s virtual piggy banks where personal finance lessons are taught.
Financial literacy is a major issue around the world, and with rapid advances in digital technologies, the learning curve continues to grow steeper. Fintech apps geared towards young people can help alleviate the barriers toward financial success by teaching them the importance of smart money management.
New York contributor Kiara Taylor specializes in financial literacy and financial technology subjects. She is a corporate financial analyst who also leads a group affiliated with University of Cincinnati that teaches financial literacy to Black students and helps them secure employment and internships.