Pocket money apps aim to help kids in cashless world

For kids growing up in today's cashless society, the piggy bank is going virtual.

Father of two Roland Hall turned to a British startup's digital pocket money app because his kids were still too young to get their own bank cards from traditional banks.

With prepaid debit cards linked to the app, Hall's kids, aged 8 and 10, can spend their allowance and chore money by shopping online or by tapping at contactless payment terminals in stores. Sounds like a recipe for splurging? Not so, he said.

"When kids have cash they want to spend it quickly. They want to go to the shops and spend it on rubbish," said Hall, an IT project manager. But an app lets them check their balances online, "which actually makes them start thinking about saving rather than getting rid of the money," said Hall, who also prefers giving digital allowances because he never carries cash.

The app, which is called gohenry and expanded to the U.S. in April, is part of a wave of digital money apps combined with prepaid cards for kids as young as six that parents have access to. They are powerful new money management and savings tools that replace old-fashioned piggy banks and account passbooks. Some say they can help enhance financial literacy even as the growth of cashless payments upends traditional notions of money.

Globally, the number of non-cash transactions rose 11.2 percent to 433 billion in 2015 from the year before and are forecast to nearly double by 2020, according to the World Payments Report by financial services firms Capgemini and BNP Paribas. Britain, Canada and Sweden are among the world's most cashless countries, according to a 2017 ranking by currency website ForexBonuses, with widespread use of "contactless" bank cards that let shoppers merely tap on payment terminals for small transactions.

In China, where mobile payments rule, Alipay and WeChat Pay allow teens to hold accounts. Hong Kong offers a kids' version of its stored value Octopus card, based on older technology.

In the U.S., the fragmented banking sector means most cards still need to be swiped and, sometimes, require a pin number. Merchants in big U.S. cities are increasingly going cashless because they can gather more customer data, which makes it harder for teens without bank cards, said Stuart Sopp, CEO of Current, a two-year-old U.S. fintech startup.

"Parents are willing to pay to solve a problem that banks are not solving" - helping youngsters deal with digital money, said Sopp.

Current, gohenry and others such as Britain's Nimbl and Osper, Australia's Spriggy and Famzoo and Greenlight of the U.S. operate on similar principles. They typically charge a monthly or annual fee for prepaid debit cards. Parents can load money from their bank onto their own account, set weekly allowance amounts and spending limits, list chores to earn extra money, and block certain types of transactions, like online shopping.

Money is sent to kids' linked accounts, which they can use to set savings goals. The Current app rounds up each transaction and sweeps the change into a savings account.

Crucially, the apps send instant alerts about transactions, a feature parents love, said gohenry CEO Alex Zivoder.

"You give cash to a kid, how do you as a parent know what he will do with this money?" he said.

He said he turned to the app because "I want them to understand what the value of money is."

The apps are making inroads amid growing adult uncertainty about how the shift to cashless payments is affecting children's view of money. In one U.K. survey commissioned last year by Prudential, about 78 percent of teachers and 37 percent of parents said it hurt youngsters' understanding of money.

More than a quarter felt contactless cards encouraged them to spend more and didn't help them develop mental arithmetic skills as well as handling cash, the poll of 501 parents found. No margin of error was given.

They're valid concerns, said Russell Winnard, head of programs and services at financial education charity Young Money, a charity, but he added that apps can help parents explain to children how money works.

"Young people are seeing less and less cash transactions, which just means that we have to be even more careful to talk about what is happening at each of those stages, because it has become more abstract," said Winnard.

Paddy Kelly, another gohenry user, says he started using it because he was looking for a better way to help his 8-year-old daughter, Ailish, both save money and improve her math skills.

She had a piggy bank full of coins but her younger brother kept emptying it, Kelly said.

He likes the app's savings feature, which his daughter has used to set a goal of saving 20 pounds, at 2 pounds per week, with the aim of buying a pet gerbil. Getting her to figure out how long it would take to reach that goal is better than forcing her to do abstract math questions, which just makes her "irate," he said.

"It gets her thinking about money in a slightly smarter way," said Kelly. "Money is such an abstract concept, in today's world it kind of makes sense" for kids to use digital pocket money apps, he said.

Follow Kelvin Chan on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chanman


November 12, 2018

Sources: ABC News

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  • Behind Tech’s Shine, Some Warnings Signs Appear

    Behind Tech’s Shine, Some Warnings Signs Appear

    g over tech.</p><p>China, smartphones, Bitcoin and cloud computing have been among the major drivers of the long tech boom, which in turn has powered the global economy for the last decade. The ingredient common to all of these sectors is computer chips, which form the brains of devices and whose ubiquity means they provide early signals about changes in supply and demand.</p><p>Warnings about a sales slowdown this year have come in recent weeks from big chip suppliers that also include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Micron Technology and Western Digital. It’s an abrupt reversal, coming on the heels of stellar results in 2018 for the business that gave Silicon Valley its name.</p><p>Last year, manufacturers shipped a staggering 1 trillion chips and other semiconductor devices, 10 percent more than the year before, IC Insights estimates. But 2019 is shaping up to be a much different story, now that several important sources of chip demand appear to be dampening.</p><p>This year, with a similar downgrade, investors largely shrugged it off. Intel shed about 5 percent of its value over a week.</p><p>While acknowledging the parallels to 2000, Gene Munster, research director for Loup Ventures, a venture capital firm, said, “I think it’s different this time.”</p><p>Back then, among the best customers for the established chip firms were start-ups, which had more dreams than revenue. As the start-ups faltered, the chip firms were imperiled. The storm lasted for years.</p><p>“These are all real companies now, with real customers,” Mr. Munster said. “People are willing to look past a few bumpy months.”</p><p>Even if the problems do not linger, they are a reminder that demand is not eternal. That seems to be what happened with smartphones, which use multiple varieties of chips to run software, process data and connect to cellular networks.</p><p>“From all of our research, I don’t see some general consumer malaise,” Mr. Wolf said.</p><p>Yet several other businesses appear to be softening as well, including the market for server systems used by cloud service operators, including Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Sales of high-priced chips for such hardware have driven profits for companies like Intel and Nvidia, but they now say that equipment buyers for data centers have turned cautious.</p><p>Longtime tech industry watchers began picking up trouble signs late last spring in the market for memory chips, an essential component in computers that in decades past prompted trade tensions between the United States and rivals in Japan and South Korea. Makers of a key category called dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM, have suffered product shortages and gluts that whipsawed pricing and heralded changing fortunes for the broader industry.</p><p>During the dot-com bust of 2001, DRAM revenue plummeted 63 percent while total semiconductor revenue fell 31 percent, according to Gartner data.</p><p>But conditions changed dramatically over the years as manufacturers fled from the lack of profits, leaving three major DRAM makers — Samsung, Hynix and Micron. They have been slow to boost production, enabling them to keep their prices high. And they also benefited as memory became more important in smartphones, data center hardware and other products beyond the personal computers that once drove most sales.</p><p>“The markets today are structurally different,” Sanjay Mehrotra, Micron’s chief executive, said in a recent interview.</p><p>Yet market cycles haven’t disappeared entirely. DRAM prices peaked last June and began sliding, prompting Micron and Samsung to issue their recent profit warnings. DRAMeXchange, a Taiwan-based firm that tracks the market, predicts DRAM prices will fall an additional 20 percent in the first quarter.</p><p>Memory chips “behave like onions or steel or any other commodity,” said Jim Handy, a market researcher at Objective Analysis. “If there is an oversupply, prices fall.”</p><p>But Nvidia’s processors also became extremely popular for the mathematical process of mining digital currency, driving a surge in demand that inflated prices and created a shortage of chips. Buyers wound up placing multiple or overly ambitious orders, making it hard for the company to get a handle on conventional demand for its technology.</p><p>For all the turmoil, industry executives and analysts said that business conditions remain a lot healthier than past semiconductor slumps. For one thing, a series of mergers has reduced price competition. Companies like Micron, which routinely lost money in past cycles, are expected to remain solidly profitable even if sales dip.</p><p>“Eventually the storm will pass and these companies — Nvidia, Apple, Samsung — will have a pole position in the next tech growth curve, including A.I., health care, self-driving cars, 5G,” said Mr. Munster, the Loup analyst. “The curve is so exciting, so juicy, so full of opportunity.”</p>

    1 February 04, 2019
  • How to get the best deals on MacBook, iPad and iPhone

    How to get the best deals on MacBook, iPad and iPhone

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>The secret is to be patient. The new Apple device you have your eye on may not be discounted at the moment, but chances are that one of the major online retailers will cut the price next week or next month.</p><p>Some of the discounting is predictable. For example, Black Friday and the months before the year-end holidays. Other times, it&#x2019;s completely unpredictable. Retailers like Best Buy, Amazon (now an authorized Apple reseller), B&amp;H Photo, and Adorama often discount out of the blue for reasons only they know.</p><p>So, you have to be vigilant and keep tabs on the retail sites that most frequently discount, such as the ones cited above. You can also sign up for &#x201C;deal alerts&#x201D; or check weekly ads but it&apos;s a good idea to be proactive checking the major Apple retailer sites once a week for the specific product you&#x2019;re interested in.</p><p>Among all of Apple&#x2019;s hardware, MacBooks are discounted the most frequently and typically see the deepest price cuts.</p><p>Discounts typically come in two flavors, including sales on recently-announced MacBooks. For example, B&amp;H Photo and Amazon have been consistently discounting the Apple&apos;s newest MacBook, the 2018 MacBook Air, by $100.</p><p>More common are discounts on the previous generation of MacBooks announced a year &#x2013; or more &#x2013; back. It&#x2019;s common for B&amp;H Photo or Adorama to discount 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros released the previous year (e.g., 2017) by $200 to $400. These are still never-before-used MacBooks, but they are a year old.</p><p>Practically speaking, the differences between the newest MacBooks and last year&#x2019;s MacBooks are often small.</p><p>Discounts on iPads are also common and the same rules generally&#xA0;apply: less frequent discounts on recently-announced iPads and more frequent discounts on older models.</p><p>For most people, iPads are for media consumption and light work-related tasks. So, many consumers don&#x2019;t need the latest and greatest high-powered, pricey iPad Pros and can clear the way&#xA0;for good deals.</p><p>The&#xA0;iPad Mini 4 is often discounted from the list price $399, often as much as $50. The&#xA0;svelte, light (0.65 pounds) 7.9-inch iPad comes with 128GB of storage. It&apos;s a bit dated &#x2013; released in late 2015 with an A8 processor &#x2013; but it&apos;s fine for the vast majority of consumers.</p><p>The&#xA0;9.7-inch iPad&#xA0;was released in early 2018 and features a newer A10 Fusion processor. The 32GB model is often discounted by $50 from the regular price of&#xA0;$329. The 128GB model&#xA0;also sees frequent price cuts of $50 or more from the regular price of $429.</p><p>Or if you insist on an iPad Pro, opt for the 2017 10.5-inch model, which is often discounted by $100 or more.</p><p>Carriers and retailers are always pushing iPhone deals but there&#x2019;s almost always a catch&#xA0;and the deal typically requires signing up for&#xA0;a two-year contract.</p><p>For example, Verizon is currently offering $300 off the iPhone XS, Apple&#x2019;s newest phone.&#xA0;The catch is,&#xA0;you&#xA0;must&#xA0;add a new smartphone line and trade in a phone that&#x2019;s on their designated list of trade-ins.&#xA0;You&#x2019;ll see variations on this theme&#xA0;throughout the year&#xA0;at other carriers and retailers.</p><p>Occasionally, you&apos;ll see fleeting oddball deals like the one Apple has been offering directly on the iPhone SE: for a limited time priced at $299&#xA0; for the 128GB model. The catch here is that it&apos;s not new but refurbished.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 February 03, 2019