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Singapore Aims to Broaden Access to Digital Payments in Schools

The Ministry of Education (MOE) and a bank have announced a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) to widen the access to contactless and digital payments in all junior colleges and secondary and primary schools in Singapore. The bank will install digital payment infrastructure, including tap-and-pay terminals, in school canteens and bookstores. The tap-and-pay terminals to be installed can accept payments made through POSB Smart Buddy smartwatches or cards, as well as other payment modes, such as the School Smart Card and EZ-Link Card.

As per a MOE press release, the POSB Smart Buddy programme was designed to make digital payments and financial literacy simple, seamless, and accessible to all. Through this partnership with MOE, the bank aims to give every student the option to familiarise themselves with digital payments in their everyday lives while learning how to cultivate prudent saving and spending habits.

The organisation said it believes these skills will provide a solid foundation for achieving financial wellness when they transition to the next stage of their lives. According to a representative from MOE, the ministry recognises the growing use of e-payment in society. Having a cashless option in schools will provide students with an environment to use e-payment safely while enjoying the convenience and benefits of going cashless, such as faster transactions when making purchases.

The POSB Smart Buddy Programme was launched in 2017 and is the world’s first integrated in-school wearable digital savings and payment programme. Using the POSB Smart Buddy app, students and their parents can track their spending and saving patterns. Students can also use the app to set savings goals, while parents can manage their child’s spending by setting daily allowance limits and viewing their child’s purchases in real-time.

Since the founding of the programme, the bank has been collaborating with participating schools to provide a more integrated e-payment experience, such as using POSB Smart Buddy to assist schools in administering meal subsidies to students on financial assistance. Presently, some 40,000 students from about 80 primary and secondary schools are using POSB Smart Buddy smartwatches and applicable cards to make e-payments in schools, the release stated.

In a survey by the bank of more than six hundred parents, over 65% of respondents said POSB Smart Buddy has helped their children save and manage their expenses better. More than 70% of respondents also found that POSB Smart Buddy was a useful tool to help educate their children about savings and expenditure. Additionally, more than 90% of parents surveyed believed that it was important for their children to be familiar with using digital tools for daily activities as the world becomes increasingly digitalised.

Technology is an intrinsic part of most segments of the economy including education, finance, healthcare, entertainment, and e-commerce. As OpenGov Asia reported last year, the government launched the Digital for Life movement to bring together the community to help citizens embrace technology as a lifelong pursuit, to enrich their lives – so that no one is left behind in Singapore’s journey into the digital future. The movement promotes good digital habits as society engages in the digital domain. With the combined effort of industry players, community groups, government, and individuals, more Singaporeans will be able to enjoy a better quality of life through technology.

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