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Pocket Money Goes Digital As The Move To Cashless Gathers Pace

The traditional piggy bank is predicted to disappear from UK homes as parents lead the way towards a cashless society, with children's pocket money the latest expenditure to go digital, a new study by money.co.uk has revealed.

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  • Almost one in three (31%) parents now pay pocket money digitally

  • Even Santa and the Tooth Fairy are transferring money online with 17% and 13% making payments directly into children's accounts

  • 50% of parents say digital banking makes it easier to teach children about money

  • Money.co.uk has seen a 47% increase in the number of visits to its prepaid card page since February 2019

  • To help parents tackle the subject of finances with their offspring, money.co.uk has created a guide on how to talk to children about money

Research by financial comparison site money.co.uk, highlights that almost a third of parents (31%) now pay their children's pocket money directly into their bank accounts, with the figure rising to almost half of parents (46%) with children aged 14.

With recent reports also revealing that cash has fallen behind both debit and credit card purchases for the first time in history, and predictions that fewer than one in 10 transactions will be made using cash by 2024, the move towards a cashless society is gathering pace.

Traditional monetary gifting occasions are also moving away from physical cash. 59% of parents said they now send cash online for special occasions such as birthdays (41%) and almost two fifths (17%) said money from Santa was now being delivered digitally. The money.co.uk poll of 2,000 parents with children aged four to 14 also highlighted that cash under the pillow could be on the way out too, with one in eight (13%) parents stating the tooth fairy paid money straight into children's accounts. More than a quarter (27%) of parents questioned revealed that their child doesn't currently have a piggy bank and almost one in 10 (8%) revealed their child has never had one. Current accounts and prepaid cards like goHenry are the most popular forms of digital banking for children, with a quarter (25%) of parents choosing to pay pocket money into them. Alternative digital payments such as eBay credit or Amazon and Argos vouchers were also used.

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said: "Pocket money is a wonderful way for children to start to learn about finances. New banking apps aimed at kids include some fantastic tools and games that make learning about money visual and fun, without the need for stockpiling spare change.

"As our love affair with online shopping continues to intensify and smartphone shopping now the second most popular way to shop, it makes sense that parents would move more of their expenditures online, including their children's pocket money.

"At money.co.uk we've seen a 47% rise in the number of visits to our children's prepaid cards comparison table since February 2019, as more parents look to move to digital accounts for their youngsters." Teaching children to budget (26%), convenience (24%) and safety (20%) are the main reasons parents have turned digital with pocket money payments, with almost two fifths (17%) stating their child wants to spend their pocket money online or on their phone. Today's under 14's get an average yearly pocket money income of £241.28 (£4.64 a week), with London kids receiving the most at £348.40 per year (£6.70 a week) and those in the South West receiving the least at £189.80 a year (£3.65 a week). The average starting pocket money for four-year olds in £2.38 per week, rising to £7.57 per week for 14-year olds. Parents are happy to move online too with 50% saying it made talking to their kids about money easier.

Overall though, 71% said they still rely on spare change to introduce their children to finances but 52% have turned to the internet or mobile apps to start their offspring's financial training12, with most parents starting their banking discussions when their children are six years old13. Regionally, Londoners are leading the move online with 37% of parents saying they give pocket money digitally, whereas parents in Scotland are least likely (18%) to use online banking to pay14.


Notes to editors National research of 2,000 parents with children aged four to 14 by Censuswide Research on behalf of money.co.uk (23-30 Sept 2019)


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Salman Haqqi

Salman Haqqi, Senior Personal Finance Writer

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. He left the world of journalism to pursue his passion for personal finance.

Read Salman Haqqi's articles and guides
Joel Kempson

Joel Kempson, Personal Finance Writer

Joel Kempson devotes his time to helping people navigate the world of personal finance and make informed decisions about their money. He spent his early career writing about TV, movies, comic books and rock music.

Read Joel Kempson's articles and guides