There is nothing technically groundbreaking on offer; prepaid debit cards are available at most supermarkets and post offices, a few of the major banks have offered their own NFC bracelets in the past and, of course, every bank has its own smartphone app. But Zaap is more than the sum of its parts, and setting up an account is full of charming little details that shows the company has really thought about the service as a whole, making it fun for kids and painless for parents.
The full kit ships in a cute little box that opens up like a present, both ends popping out to reveal the card and NFC components. Parents are always in charge and can either transfer one off payments or set up an allowance. They can also load backup money to a card, hidden from their children, that can be instantly transferred in the case of emergencies. And lost or stolen cards can be immediately disabled via the app.
If your child has their own device, they can track their spending and set savings goals within the app, all within a colourful and easy to navigate user interface.
Getting into the service will cost between $9.95 and $40, depending on whether you just order a prepaid card or the full bundle which includes a personalised card, a rubber NFC bracelet that looks like a wafer thin Fitbit and a “Keeper”; a tiny little rubber nubbin that can attach the NFC chip to a child’s current watch or Fitbit so they don’t need to wear two bands.
My own child is still a bit too young to understand the concept of an allowance, but when the time comes I’ll want a prepaid debit card for NFC and online purchases. The added bonus of a simple app with savings goals and a cheap and cheerful wearable that she can lose without too much pain means I’ll be choosing something like Zaap. This feels like the modern equivalent of the children’s passbook I used when I was a child.