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Singapore expands student contactless payment scheme

Singapore is expanding a contactless payment program that enables students to use smartwatches to make cashless payments at school canteens, book stores, and select retailers. The country’s Ministry of Education and Singaporean bank, POSB, are behind the Smart Buddy program, that is to be extended to all primary and secondary schools, junior colleges by the year 2025.

According to a report in The Straits Times, the Smart Buddy program, launched initially by POSB in 2017 at 19 primary schools, is now being used by 80 primary and secondary schools. By 2025, that number is expected to increase to around 340 schools.

Smart Buddy, which is free for parents and students, aims to educate students on money management basics and help parents monitor their children’s daily expenses, including setting spending limits. There are about 40,000 students on board now.

The program enables students to use a free Smart Buddy smartwatch or card linked to their parents’ bank account to make cashless payments. Contactless payments are made by tapping the smartwatch or card at compatible payment terminals that POSB is installing in schools.

The contactless readers can also accept other payments made with stored value cards and school smart cards.

Parents can monitor how much their children spend via the Smart Buddy watch or card both on or off campus by using the free Smart Buddy mobile app for Android or iOS. Parents can also set savings goals and daily spending limits.

POSB conducted an online survey last year polling some 600 parents. The survey found that more than 65% of respondents believed that Smart Buddy helped their children save and manage their expenses better.

More than 70% of the parents felt that the program is a useful tool to help educate their children about savings and expenditure. Over 90% of the respondents felt it was important for their children to be familiar with using digital payments as the world becomes increasingly digitized.

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