Last week was Global Money Week and I had the honor to participate in an event in Amsterdam on payments and youth. It was a fantastic event, and not only because I had the pleasure of meeting H.M. Queen Maxima, a strong advocate on all aspects of inclusion. I also got to hear first-hand what kids are thinking about “digital” in general, and about finances in the digital age.
The theme of this year’s Global Money Week was Learn, Save, Earn – topics that all children should be taught at a young age, to ensure that they understand the value of money and the consequences of their spending.
It was amazing to see how switched on these kids are and how much digital technology is a part of their daily lives. Of course they expect banking services and payments to be available on their phones and tablets. Yet, at the same time, it became apparent that some of them were really concerned about their privacy (mainly vis-à-vis their parents).
As I was listening to them, I realized how important it is that we ensure that young people, who are digitally savvy, also become familiar with the unique aspects of digital payments. They need to be made aware of the risks and benefits inherent in paying online, and also need to fully understand the differences between the various finance and payment products that are offered to them. Only through thoughtful education in schools and in discussions with parents can this awareness take hold.
Getting there requires a substantial amount of work and, while its everyone’s responsibility, no one can do it alone. Teachers and parents must lead, but it also requires governments to foster educational programs in their school systems. It takes an effort from the private sector to offer only appropriate products to minors, and also to work in partnership with governments, regulators and NGOs, like CYFI, to develop the best and most practical curricula. The overall goals must be that children fully understand what they commit to online and that they are enabled to make informed decisions about their finances.
I truly believe that if the key players – governments, NGOs and the private sector – commit to working together, we will ensure that our children learn, earn and save and help build a fair and inclusive financial system.