Wellington start-up wants to transform budgeting

Wellington start-up wants to transform budgeting

A new Wellington start-up wants to transform the financial literacy of New Zealand children.

Banqer is a financial education app that simulates an online bank account, and it's nurturing savings-savvy primary school children around the country.

Churton Park School pupil Jack Porter is 10 years old and he's already grasped a crucial concept that's beyond many adults.

"It teaches us how in the adult world how to look after our money, like not blow it all on one big thing then be a hobo the next day," he says.

He's talking about Banqer, a financial education app for classrooms that simulates an online bank account now being used in 200 classrooms nationwide.

It's that simulation how money can motivate that's making the app such a hit.

"This end of term we're making ice cream sundaes and you'll be able to buy different ingredients for different amounts of money, so like the poorer people won't be able to afford as much ingredients," says student Nathan Wong.

And just like real life, there are fines for breaking the rules.

"If we leave a jacket or a lunchbox on the floor the teacher picks it up when she finds it, puts it in this box and we have to pay like $10,000 to get it back out again," Nathan says.

Banqer team leader Kendall Flutey, 25, was talking to her 10-year-old brother when she realised she could make his teacher's job much easier.

"From there I realised at a minimum I want to try and build you something to make this system you're running a little more relevant to the kids," she says.

"He was currently using paper money and also [wanted] to save a bit of his time – he spent a couple of hours managing this complex system all manually either writing it down or on a spreadsheet, and I thought I could automate all of that."

She pitched the idea to a start-up weekend in Wellington. Banqer won, and now a year later they have four staff and Ms Flutey has left her dream job in software development to take it further.

She wants to make maths relevant.

"Because it's practical and relevant, kids can see interest compounding in their account and it's not a textbook approach," she says.

Nathan earns his keep on PE duty while classmate Becky Ngan, the highest saver, earns $100,000 per blog post she writes.

"I think that you shouldn't really buy too much that you don't have any money left on the days like some people have been doing. They haven't been very wise with their spending choices," Becky says.

Wise beyond her years, thanks to an app that's creating a new generation of smart savers.

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