POSB Smart Buddy: Yay or Nay?

December 20, 2017
Media Review

Sean and I embrace technology with open arms – this is something I’m sure most of you know by now – so when POSB Smart Buddy was introduced, I hopped on board to give Blake a chance to experience it.

Now, I can understand that a majority of parents feel that by going cashless, their children won’t learn the value of money if it’s not seen. Honestly, those were my initial thoughts too. I also wondered how relevant the topic ‘Money’ in Primary Mathematics will be to the children when we become a smart nation and truly go cashless… But then I looked at my own way of handling cash, or lack of.

Personally, I don’t handle physical cash much. Whenever I can pay by NETS or Debit, I go for it. One of the reasons is because I really dislike having to go to an ATM to withdraw cash, queue or no queue. Another reason is because I can track my spending effectively whenever I log into my bank account. I can see clearly where I’m spending too much on and to stop the urge to splurge if I want to save more. But I think what’s most important is that there’s no head scratching, wondering where those $50 note I just withdrew disappeared to. Don’t you just hate days like that?!

So I take my own personal experience of going as cashless as I possibly can and thought seriously about this new system. It may not be such a bad idea after all!

With the POSB Smart Buddy Watch, I can set a limit to Blake’s spending (think of it as a kiddy debit card situation) and keep track of his spending though the mobile app.

The budget can be set and updated to the watch immediately – convenient if the child needs to buy something urgently but have ran out of cash/budget and, for some reason, you’re not with them. At the moment, there’s no fixed amount for his daily spending as his school is not one of the participating schools.

On a particular weekend after our morning jog, we decided to give the POSB Smart Buddy Watch a go. Blake said he will treat us to some snacks from Sheng Shiong. Haha! He was quite excited about it and when I told him he had a $5 budget, he looked at the prices of each snack carefully before picking his choice. He gave Nakayla free will to pick what she wanted, and thankfully, whatever she picked was well within the budget.

The excitement in using his POSB Smart Buddy Watch was obvious cos when we reached the cashier, this boy of ours told the cashier that he’s going to pay with his watch and that he had $5 inside the watch to spend. Haha!

I had expected the same convenience as when I use my card. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.

The staff were a little confused on which was the right payment method (you know that whole NETS, NETS Flashplay, Paywave etc.?). Everyone had their own logic of what’s the correct payment method. When we got it right, we faced another issue.

The payment counter was a little high for Blake, despite him standing at 1.2m tall. It took him a while to adjust his arm and me giving him a little help to reach the machine before he could tap his watch and make payment. Perhaps the merchants can take note and place that particular machine a little lower to make for easier tapping? I guess all these kinks will work out eventually. It is still a pretty new system to many after all.

The next place we visited to test out the POSB Smart Buddy Watch was POPULAR. I increased the daily budget so that Blake can buy a new plastic spring keychain to replace his old damaged one and a new card holder for Nakayla.

It went a lot smoother here. The staff knew what to do, the counter was lower and Blake could see the machine and its screen clearly. It was all at a comfortable level for his height. After the first try got timed out, where I think he spaced out, Sean helped him out with the tapping.

When I found out that KFC is also a participating merchant, I increased the budget once more and we headed over for dinner. Haha! By now, Blake was a savvy user. He saw the sign for POSB Smart Buddy Watch, and recognized where he should be tapping (just a little above the screen). So when it came to payment time, he didn’t hesitate to scan his watch!

So far, I can tell that Blake enjoys paying for things, especially when it’s for his little sister. He has asked me more than once before if he could take Nakayla out on his own – kind of like a brother-sister date – and I reckon this experience sort of fulfilled a little tiny part of it.

Now, if only his school has the POSB Smart Buddy system in place. Then I can say goodbye to digging coins for his pocket money and really have Blake experience the digital age of handling his finances, where everything is accountable for in black and white!

Disclaimer: We were invited to give POSB Smart Buddy Watch a go for the purpose of this review. For more, visit this website.

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