News & Updates

PennyOwl - Mobile payments for today’s tech savvy kids?

By James MacTavish / June 16, 2015

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Launched earlier last week, our friends at PennyOwl introduced their innovative mobile payment platform for kids. Mobile solutions like Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal/Paydiant, Samsung Pay, as well as the all-in-one card solutions like Coin, Pastc, Stratos and Swyp are all battling it out for supremacy this year. It’s a fantastic time for Penny Owl to trumpet a solution specifically designed for kids with regards to their online purchases.

PennyOwl in reality is not a mobile payments system. With this in mind, do not expect your kids to be jumping into your local BestBuy and picking up an Xbox. Instead, PennyOwl is an ingenious way for kids of all ages to learn and more importantly, experience fiscal management and sensible purchasing of digital and real goods online.

At launch PennyOwl provided this video on YouTube, nicely explaining the value proposition.

Today, PennyOwl enables kids to intuitively manage their hard-begged digital wallet, request (perhaps beg) for more money from their parents, safely browse age-appropriate goods independently, and learn about money in a safe, friendly environment. Here at AppCarousel we discuss the return of the walled garden in previous posts, and PennyOwl is a great example. PennyOwls walled garden is a retreat from the dangers of unmonitored online activity. Kids can learn to handle money and transactions with goods safely, while parents can monitor their behaviour and influence their buying decisions (it’s ultimately the parents’ money that kids are using).

So where, if youngsters using PennyOwl can explore, buy, and use apps, does AppCarousel fit in all of this? As you would expect for a dedicated platform for kids, the catalog of apps are highly curated set of age appropriate content. Our role is to manage the catalog, integrate reviews from Common Sense Media’s excellent “reviews for kids and parents” platform, and help PennyOwl in the recruitment and vetting of all the apps. The end result is PennyOwl providing parents with peace of mind and confidence that their children aren’t browsing around Google Play being exposed to inappropriate, crude content and/or running up a bill on in–app purchases. Instead kids will be engaged with hand-picked educational apps while learning about the value of their allowance in an app store environment. This will, no doubt transcend into their purchasing behaviour as they get older.

PennyOwl’s timing couldn’t be any better seeing as Google recently made headlines for launching age classifications for all apps found in Google Play. If you poke around Google Play you will now see extra metadata that now tells you what age the app is suitable for, but you can’t always trust your children to read or more importantly follow suitability warnings. As such, it’s always best to set up parental controls on their devices when you’re dealing with Google Play.

PennyOwl’s proposition definitely resonates with today’s young digital consumers, but will PennyOwl one day become a true mobile wallet for kids? All I can say at this stage is that PennyOwl is backed and supported by Mastercard and Silicon Valley Bank.

Stephane Wyper, VP of MasterCard Start Path said: “PennyOwl, which was among the first companies in our Commerce Innovated program, is a great example of passionate entrepreneurs seeking to solve a problem that is all too familiar to families with young children”.

Reetika Grewal, Head of Payments Strategy and Solutions for Silicon Valley Bank said: "As children become more familiar with mobile technologies there is the opportunity to redefine how they learn to engage with money. PennyOwl is making this happen now in a thoughtful way and has the potential to create a fun, safe and secure way for kids to learn about smart spending, saving and donating.”

If you’re a parent living in the US, go download the PennyOwl app for Apple and Android for your kids. However, be warned you might see your kids click the “Request Cash” button and be a bit more open to doing chores around the house!