Learning financial literacy is important at any age and tech startup Mellow thinks it’s best to do it as early as possible.
The company is working on a smooth watch (opens in new tab), a colorful smartwatch designed to teach children as young as five the increasingly important topic of money and how to spend it responsibly. Despite looking like a toy, it actually has contactless payment enabled and a set of security features.
As described, the Mellow Watch can be seen as a mini-smartwatch. It focuses on teaching financial literacy to children aged five to 13, but has some typical smartwatch features.
For starters, the watch has a virtual debit card linked to the parent’s bank account via the Parental app, which can manage multiple devices. Parents can provide a daily allowance for the clock and set rules on how the money can be spent. Mellow Watch works wherever contactless payments are accepted with transactions appearing in the Parental App. And if the kid freaks out over the spending, notifications pop up telling them to slow down.
To make financial literacy more attractive to young people, developers include some game-like modes. Parents can activate Task-Based Aid and have their children earn money by completing tasks. Goal-Based Savings are daily challenges that encourage children to save money and develop the habit of saving.
Mellow Watch also doubles as a phone. It works on the 4G LTE network to make calls or send texts on the touchscreen. The screen is quite small, but since it’s for kids, their hands should be small enough to type something.
The device’s security features are also quite robust. There is real-time GPS tracking and the watch automatically blocks unrecognized numbers. If you are concerned about your financial details being leaked, Mellow claims that the device complies with EMVco and PCI-DSSwhich are security standards designed by major credit card companies to protect confidential information.
It even has a pedometer thrown in for good measure. The only thing missing is a suite of apps. We asked Mellow if entertainment apps like YouTube will come to the smartwatch. We’ll update this story if we get a response.
If you’re interested in buying one, you’ll have to wait a while. Mellow Watch will launch in a Kickstarter campaign starting August 15th. It is unknown how much the watch will cost nor what packs will be available. You can sign up to receive an email notification when the campaign starts.
Analysis: shifted target audience
Admittedly, this is an interesting piece of technology, but we question how useful it will be. Teaching financial literacy to children is commendable, but are children able to understand money and the responsibility that comes with it? It seems that even Mellow is questioning himself on that front.
In addition to the allowance, parents can give Star Points to their young children in lieu of cash. It seems points cannot be used to buy anything; are merely collectibles. If that’s the case, then you’re not teaching kids about finance. Instead, you’re teaching kids how to play and accumulate points. A real-world application is important.
Also, this device seems more suitable for older children, especially with the complexity. A 13-year-old can browse this mini-smartwatch, but can a five-year-old? She should? Kids are smart, but you still need to keep things simple. Ultimately, we can only speculate until the official launch.
If you are interested in child-centric technology, we have a list of the best laptops for kids. They are made to be easy to use and withstand rough handling.