Standard Bank has become the first South African bank to launch a banking app solely for children.

The bank announced the Standard Bank Kidz Banking App for smartphones and tablets targeted at kids aged between six and 11 years and is designed to engage and entertain children while enabling parents to explain concepts of money management such as earning, saving, and spending.

According to Standard Bank’s Head of Digital Channels and eCommerce, Vuyo Mpako, South Africa is a country with a reputation for a poor savings ethic, and the bank’s vision for the app is to begin to teach children to save in a way that is easy, exciting and appeals to their love of all things technical.

“We created the app from the premise that traditional banking services can’t simply be extended down to the youth market and it is never too early to form the foundation for a solid financial life. So we set out to design an app, in collaboration with dozens of children, which would appeal to their understanding and love of digital devices,” Mpako said in a statement.

Education through gamification

The Standard Bank Kidz Banking App is set in an animated fantasy realm where colourful digital representations of South Africa’s Big Five animals maintain habitats each representing a different area of money management.

An example of this is the Leopard character which encourages kids to complete “missions”- or chores – assigned by parents, such as tidying their rooms or watering the plants, in order to earn money. Parents can teach children to earn money by paying money into the app when allocated tasks are completed.

The app integrates directly to a parent’s banking app allows parents to activate the service and retain high levels of control and visibility over the transactions available to their kids.

“The more serious intent behind this is to address low financial literacy levels among many young South Africans, and the indebtedness and low savings rates within our greater population. For parents with strongly- developed financial skills, the objective would be to pass on the legacy of the lessons they have learned and to create an awareness of inculcating financial literacy skills within their children,” Mpako said.

According to the bank, remain a ‘work in progress’ service that will be constantly monitored and added to, to keep pace with the rapidly moving digital world and its success will hinge on what it offers to earners of the future.

The app is available for free for Android on Google Play and the iOS version will be released in October.