Card designed to teach children about electronic payments may sound death knell for pocket money
Children as young as eight will from today be able to shop online armed with their own Visa debit card. A new company developed by a group of parents is offering what is believed to be the first prepaid debit card for eight- to 16-year-olds, which children can also use in a restricted range of shops and to withdraw cash.
While the card is aimed at children, parents can set controls on its use, and youngsters will not be able to use their plastic to buy “adult stuff” such as alcohol and tobacco, the company, PKTMNY, Nevertheless, some people may feel uncomfortable about the idea of primary school children using their own card online.says.
The company says its service aims to help children manage money in an increasingly cashless world. There are already several prepaid cards on the market aimed at young people, including MeCard and Splash, but the minimum age is typically 13. PKTMNY said its service would enable younger children to “take their first steps in managing their own money in a safe and secure environment controlled by their parents”, and said it had put safeguards in place to prevent children being able to buy inappropriate items.
A parent will have to sign up for their child to get a card and they can control how it is used – for example, they can permit or forbid their offspring from using their card to shop online or in stores, or to withdraw cash.
The company website includes a shop that offers families access to “age-appropriate” retailers including Hamleys, Zavvi and Superdry.
A spokesman said the card has preprogrammed restrictions; for example, it cannot be used in a pub, bar or nightclub, to buy fuel, in some restaurants, or for anything else where the purchaser has to be 18 or over.
The service is not free to use. There is a joining fee of £5 per family, a monthly membership fee of £1 per child, and a cash machine withdrawal fee of 50p in the UK and £2 overseas.
Mark Timbrell, the company’s founder, said: “As a parent I know just how difficult it is to teach children about money, especially as the school curriculum focuses on using cash and visiting banks, neither of which reflect how children see money being used.”
He added that the service reflected the fact that children “have been left behind” when it comes to using money in the digital age. Data from Ofcom showed that 91% of children aged five to 15 in the UK have access to the internet. “Despite this, children haven’t had access to relevant and safe ways of managing, spending or learning about money online.”
PKTMNY was tested over the summer by BritMums, a parent blogging network.
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