Growing Our Own Customers

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...Literally

Do you remember receiving your first allowance as a child? Did you stow it away for safekeeping, or run to the corner store and blow it instantly on your favourite candy? (No judgement either way; candy is delicious.)

We’ve been interested and active in the field of financial literacy for kids for some time through our Junior ATB program, but we’ve never dived into a full-on commitment to helping children become financially savvy outside of a one-off experience. Until we connected with Dojo, a Canadian fintech company. 

What took us so long? We wonder that ourselves sometimes, but we also knew it was important we find a solution that’s useful, engaging, realistic, and effective. And now we think we’re onto something. 

In our research of existing apps and programs for kids’ financial literacy, we found that virtually nothing out there works with real money. This was a big sticking point for us, because our focus in working with Dojo is to educate, foster, and grow our customers—literally grow them up with us—into financially successful adults. And that means understanding the real cause and effect of saving and spending money—even when you mess up and spend it on the wrong thing (within safe and reasonable limits, in this case). 

Dojo works by providing children with two bank accounts—a chequing and a saving account—set up and jointly run by their parents. Parents can set up weekly allowances, spending limits, as well as additional chores their kids get paid for (once they confirm actual completion); essentially, they set up their children’s financial flow. Kids, on the flip side, interact with the app through games and quizzes, and can earn new belts (hence the name Dojo) as they achieve goals and improve their financial literacy. They can also set up savings goals, and either tell the app what they’re saving each week and track progress, or tell the app how much they want to save and follow its advice on what to put aside from every allowance. If they get off track, they can pause their goals and re-assess, because hey, who doesn’t have to do that every once in awhile?

Our hope, again, is to really help kids understand the cause and effect of spending money, especially in a world where money exists almost entirely on plastic cards and in the “invisible” space of online banking, e-transfers, and PayPal. Yes, having cash makes money more tangible to children, but it’s no longer the norm, and we want them to have a real-world experience. When they spend, the Dojo app will notify them. If they’ve achieved a goal of purchasing something they were saving for, Dojo will celebrate with them. If they’ve used their funds in a less responsible way, it will educate them on how their balance has been affected, and reconfigure their savings plan. 

Right now, the app is going through rigorous internal testing, and it’s geared towards 10-12-year-olds, but the ultimate goal—if we find this to be a viable product—is to start children using it around six and have the app grow with them to set them up for financial success. 

We’ve also discovered some very rewarding additional uses for Dojo, including how it can be used to help individuals with intellectual disabilities become more financially independent. We’re exploring this as we move forward with testing, and are hopeful it could be a positive step in making our banking platform more accessible. We know there is a lot of work to do to really excel in this area of our business, and we’re ready to dive in. 

ATB customers can keep an eye out for Dojo early in 2018, when we’ll open up our test market a bit further. While it won’t be a perfect, finished product, we’re excited to get you involved in our agile development process, because this isn’t really about us. We’ll be looking for feedback from you and your kids to make Dojo perfect for you.

Until then, check out this coverage on Junior ATB.

ProgressJosh Posty