ZAAP: Hands-on review of new kids payment wearable and app
ZAAP is a new prepaid Mastercard and wearable band for Australian kids, managed by parents via an app.
Launched today, ZAAP is a new digital money solution that gives Australian kids aged 8-17 easy access to money when they need it without the need for physical notes and coins. The product allows Australian parents to provide their kids with a prepaid Mastercard linked to an app that both the child and parent can access. I've been trialing the ZAAP product for a couple of weeks now ahead of today's launch, to see how it goes from set-up through to making everyday purchases.
ZAAP consists of a prepaid card and a small payment chip. The chip can be inserted into a wearable wristband or into a mini silicone "keeper" that can slide onto an existing fitness band, watch or bracelet. The prepaid card is managed via an app that both the parent and child can access, each with different logins.
The set-up process and using the wearable band
For the purpose of trialling the product, I was both the parent and the child. As the parent, I went onto the ZAAP website to order the prepaid card for my child, "Ali". When ordering the card I could pick from dozens of bright, fun and colourful card designs or I could even choose to upload a photo. I opted for a pink and green design (see image to the right). I could also select if I wanted the prepaid card on its own, the card and wearable band or the whole pack that also includes the mini silicone slip. I opted for the pink wristband, but you could also choose a sleek black or blue one.
With my card and band ordered, I then downloaded the ZAAP app and set up the account, which was fairly straight forward. In the app there's a parent wallet and a child wallet. You first need to add money to the parent wallet which you can do by a simple bank transfer from your existing bank account. After you've received your prepaid card in the mail, you can activate the child's wallet in the app and instantly transfer money from the parent wallet to the child wallet.
As the child, I had to create a different PIN to log in to the app. Once I was in there I could access my child wallet and set savings goals, but I wasn't able to access money in the parent wallet. This means parents are in complete control as to how much money they give their child access to.
With money in the child account, I was ready to make some purchases. I put the mini payment chip into the pink wearable band, clipped it onto my wrist and hit the shops to give it a whirl. To make a purchase, I simply tapped my wrist to the payment terminal and it worked like any other contactless payment; all you need to do is hover your wrist over the EFTPOS machine, no PIN required.
It's good to note that the mini payment chip in the wearable band and the prepaid Mastercard are both linked to the child wallet, so you can use either to make a payment. If your child loses one, e.g. they misplace the wearable with the chip inside, you can temporarily lock that one in the app and the prepaid Mastercard will still work.
What problem does it solve?
ZAAP teaches kids how to manage their money in an increasingly cashless society. Instead of giving kids physical cash, giving them money digitally via the app will teach them how to monitor their spending in a digital environment. They can set up their own savings goals within the app and track their progress, as well as see how they've been spending their money.
ZAAP also makes sure kids have easy access to money when they need it. For example, if the buses aren't running and they need to pay for a taxi home, if they need to buy some lunch when they're out and about, or if they need to top up their Opal or Myki card. By having the wearable and/or prepaid card with them, even if it's not loaded with money, parents can instantly transfer money from the parent wallet to the child wallet at any time.
How does it compare to Spriggy?
The main competitor to the newly-launched ZAAP product is Spriggy, which launched a couple of years ago. Spriggy also offers a prepaid card for kids which is linked to an app that both the child and parent can access.
One of the main differences between ZAAP and Spriggy is what the apps offer. As well as the ability to set up savings goals, the Spriggy app allows parents to set regular or ad hoc jobs for their child to complete to earn pocket money, instead of giving them pocket money in cash. By setting jobs to complete with the incentive of earning more money, the Spriggy app helps teach kids about the real-world practicalities of working for money and watching it grow. ZAAP enables kids to set their own savings goals, but it doesn't have this digital pocket money feature.
In terms of card designs, both apps offer something fun and exciting. Spriggy offers its standard card with its cute piggy bank logo in bright blue and pink, as well as a range of superhero-themed cards including Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman or The Flash. ZAAP does offer more choice with more than 50 card designs to choose from, as well as the ability to upload a personal photo or selfie onto the card.
The fee structure is a bit different too. Spriggy charges a flat annual fee of $30 per child to use the app and receive the linked prepaid card, and offers a 30-day free trial period. This works out to be $2.50 per month, per child. There's no fee for initially purchasing the prepaid card and you can load money onto the parent wallet for free.
ZAAP charges a $2 monthly account fee per card (this works out to be $24 per year per card) as well as an initial purchase fee depending on what you order. If you opt for just the prepaid Mastercard there's a purchase fee of $9.99. I ordered the full pack (called Get ZAAPED) with the prepaid Mastercard, wearable band and keeper and it cost $43.25 including postage and GST. When you load the parent wallet in your ZAAP app via a debit or credit card, there's a fee of 1.5% of the transaction value.