The ins and outs of fintech for kids as they head back to school


From digital wallets to virtual bank accounts, fintech is the trending way youngsters are interacting with—and learning about—money.

Back to school is around the corner, and along with requests for new backpacks and running shoes, may come…digital wallets?Financial technology, or fintech, for kids of all ages is gaining traction in Canada. On offer are things like virtual bank accounts, digital wallets—a software service that stores your banking info in an app that enables you to use it for online or in-store purchases—or apps that track their spending, saving, chores and allowances. And, along with parental guidance, fintech can be a tool to promote financial literacy. But with any new technology—especially when kids and money are involved—comes a learning curve. Below, experts weigh in on how to navigate this growing digital space.


Fintech products can vary in format, features, reliability and ratings.

Like any new technology, consumers should do their research before signing up, advises Greg Masiewich, manager, social and digital media, for the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE). “Know your product, especially if it’s tied to real money or a bank account,” he says. “You want to make sure whatever product you decide to use, you know the company’s platform is trustworthy.”

  • Here are a few tips when selecting a product:
  • Ask your bank about any fintech offerings they have or look out for partnerships with other federally regulated financial institutions.
  • Check fintech product sites for security details, including industry-standard SSL encryption and parental control options.
  • Compare annual and monthly subscription packages and included features. Look for additional fees related to lost cards, non-sufficient funds (NSF), exchange rates, cash advances, etc.
  • Check app ratings—they can come in handy when making a final decision.


Some fintech products offer colourful graphic interfaces, combined with an easy-to-use, often gamified, money-management experience. Not only are they designed to attract their attention, but the technology itself aligns with what kids know, as well as how they think and interact, say experts.

“It fits into where kids are already spending their time (on electronic devices) and what they’re interested in,” says Masiewich.


From money transfers to smart-card purchases, allowance and chore allocation, fintech products offers a diverse range of features and functions, geared to different ages and financial prowess.

Built-in controls allow parents to set parameters on functions, such as account access and spending limits, in addition to assigning and monitoring chores, allocating allowances and transferring money.

“These apps are a powerful teaching tool that connects with [kids] because they are so used to doing everything online,” says CPA Vivien Leung, senior principal, taxation and financial literacy volunteer with CPA Canada.


Many fintech apps also offer educational resources—including activities, quizzes and games.

“Making sure it’s fun and rewarding helps kids hit milestones,” says CPA Ian Chan, principal, examinations and international assessment with CPA Canada as well as a volunteer with its financial literacy program. “If they look at it positively, they will continue to do so for the rest of their lives.”

Parents can up their involvement by participating in the activities and sharing their own insights to cement understanding and learnings, adds Masiewich. Skills kids develop, he adds, go beyond financial, and include self-efficacy, independence and work ethic.


When teaching kids (particularly younger ones) about money in a digital setting, make sure you take it out of the virtual world into reality, suggests parenting expert and family therapist Jennifer Kolari, founder of Connected Parenting.

“Money isn’t tangible when it’s in apps and digital wallets,” says Kolari, who notes that kids are much more likely to be protective of a literal jar full of money

To make it real, Kolari recommends using popsicle sticks, play money or coins to physically demonstrate what’s happening onscreen. “Those things can be very helpful and create structure, so they [kids] can see what is going up and down,” she says.


Add one of these fintech apps to your family’s money management plans. Pass on this advice to help children avoid financial mistakes when they’re young. Plus, boost financial savviness with CPA Canada’s free financial literacy virtual school sessions for kids, which covers virtual saving and bank accounts, earning incomes and more

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