A former KPMG accountant aims to create financially-savvy students after developing virtual banking tool Banqer, writes Lee Suckling.
Kendall Flutey was inspired to create Banqer – a virtual banking tool for teaching financial literacy in the classroom – when visiting her family home one day.
“My brother is much younger than me, and came home and told me ‘I’ve been earning hundreds of dollars a day!’” Flutey recalled. “Of course I was dubious, but I didn’t realise it was fictitious money.”
Delving deeper into his ‘money earning’, Flutey discovered her brother’s teacher had added a financial literacy component into his classroom.
“They were learning about money by earning income from attending class, and doing well in maths tests. With that money, they were earning interest on it, paying tax with it, ‘buying’ houses they could afford on TradeMe with it, and learning how to live with it.”
Flutey approached the teacher to learn about his system.
“It turned out he was doing everything on a spreadsheet manually and printing paper money out to give to kids,” she explained. “It was so much manual input for him, so I decided to mock up an online bank, because that’s what we use in the real world – not paper money.”
Money and modules
Flutey attended the Start Up Weekend Wellington in August 2014 and pitched the idea of an online service that would enable teachers to incorporate financial learning into their classrooms.
“I didn’t actually know at the time but the Ministry of Education had just put financial literacy into the curriculum.” Six interested parties jumped on board and, together at Start Up Weekend, they developed the skeleton of web application Banqer.co.
Banqer is aimed at eight to 12 year olds, as “according to research, this is the best time to introduce kids to finances,” said Flutey. The site enables a teacher to teach basic financial literacy in easy modules.
“First is the bank account module. This will usually be the first time an eight-year-old has access to a bank account. Teachers can transfer money in and they can transfer money out. Just like adults do every day.”
Taxation and interest
The income module sees pupils receive an amount of money each week, and they also learn about different types of income – salaries, wages, contracts, and so on. The interest module takes this income further.
“It allows kids to earn interest on their savings,” said Flutey. “Teachers can set the interest rate, the day of the week for interest to be paid, and then they can watch their bank account grow.”
Less popular with children is the taxation module.
“Kids don’t like it! But it’s where they can learn about how tax is calculated and deducted in real life.”
This module was developed with the help of the taxation team at KPMG.
“We get a little political with this module, as it also teaches kids about where their tax dollars are going,” said Flutey. “They learn about what the Government does with money and why it needs to collect tax.
“Financial literacy is such a hot topic at the moment, and Banqer is presenting financial information in the same way it’s presented in the real world, in a safe, online way.”
The resource “works in the background” and involves infrequent teacher intervention, Flutey adds.
“Teachers don’t have a spare hour a day, so this only takes up 10 minutes. They can set it up, and let it do its thing while kids are learning.”
Lee Suckling writes for INTERFACE Magazine.
Piloted in select schools in the last term of 2014, Banqer launched on the first day of this school year. It’s been rolled out in Sorted.org.nz’s Sorted Schools, a cluster that are integrating financial literacy education into their curriculums.
Pricing for use of the web resource is $3.50 per student, per term, or $2 per student, per term, for two terms.