Why I’ll be giving my kids cash for pocket money

I’ve seen a few press releases* from PKTMNY about their cashless pocket money system. I even, probably quite unfairly** commented at length on a post about Why PKTMNY is a great idea because I don’t think it is such a great idea. The comment understandably wasn’t moderated and for once I didn’t cut and paste a copy of it, so this is a blog post based around the themes I wrote about instead.

PKTMNY operate what they refer to as a cashless pocket money system for 8-16 year olds. Fundamentally the system is based around a pre-paid visa debit card, that parents can load up with cash and monitor. In that sense it’s not a great deal different to the cashless school dinner systems that a lot of schools run. I even know one locally that does it via finger print recognition and lets parents log on to a website that shows them exactly what’s been purchased and when it was bought. Talk about Big Brother.

There are several problems I have with PKTMNY, or rather the concept behind giving Visa cards to 8-16 year olds:-

  • the concept of “money” becomes disassociated by using a card rather than cash. As an adult who used to have a spending problem, I know how easy it is to swipe a card and not feel like I’m spending anything. Inculcating this disassociation in kids as young as 8 isn’t a good idea in my book. Counting out your cash, watching the till ring up the sale and physically handing over the cash are a much better way of teaching kids the value of money. And it also keeps their arithmetic sharp.
  • Although you can set good parameters/limitations on what can or can’t be done with the prepaid Visa card, at worst, 8 year olds can take cash out of cash machines and shop on the internet to the value of what’s on their card. I’ve not seen anything to suggest the card couldn’t be used online to buy either another prepaid card with no restrictions or vouchers with no restrictions either. For example, the FAQ doesn’t give me any comfort that a hypothetical 8 year old couldn’t buy an iTunes voucher from somewhere with the card and then use that voucher to rent 18 certificate films. 
  • the fees can quickly mount. A pound per month per child; 50p to transfer money over to your account via a debit card, on top of a £5 set up fee. Unless you want an inflexible standing order, any method of putting money on to the cards will cost. You could easily pay £30 a year in fees for having two kids with PKTMNY cards.

Is it just me? Have I blown it out of proportion or are my concerns genuine?

*As a blogger I always find it amusing when I get press releases with “embargoed” writ large in red. I think with the exception of videogames embargoed for various exclusivity deals, I’ve pretty much either ignored the release or ignored the embargo. 

**it was the first post on the subject I happened to come across in my timeline, it wasn’t really her fault her I wrote my diatribe there and it’s understandable I wasn’t moderated into the public domain.