In the spirit of partnership, Kiwibank has become somewhat of an incubator for community startups in the banking sector. Kiwibank head of corporate social responsibility Kelly Weston says one of its execs was at a Startup Weekend when it saw financial capability platform Banqer come into being.
Co-founded by Kendall Flutey, the idea for the company was seeded when her little brother started coming home from school asking "weird" intricate questions about money, and she discovered his teacher had been running an elaborate physical money system.
Banqer is now a digital platform for kids to learn about money and how to manage it in a simulated environment at school. The target age range of the software is seven to 11– although it's used by a much wider age group – and, just as in real life, their decisions have positive and negative consequences.
The partnership between the two began with Flutey writing a series of blog posts on the Kiwibank website Inner.Kiwi about starting the business. Now Kiwibank is supporting Banqer to roll the software out to 1,000 classrooms around the country, as well as supporting the development of four new financial capability modules for the programme.
"It is a great fit both culturally and purpose-wise,” Weston says.
Maybe one day that will lead to kids getting a Kiwibank account, but Weston says that’s not what it's about.
“We haven’t got any product affiliation with this partnership, but it's part of a bigger strategy to start telling our brand story and our purpose of helping Kiwis be better off. It's not a sponsorship, it's a partnership. We are just really excited to be championing Banqer and collaborating with them so we can continue on our joint mission of making Kiwi kids better with money."
Weston says research showed Kiwis did take social responsibility into account when making decisions about their bank provider. As part of its corporate social responsibility Kiwibank has partnered with Nga Tangata and Aviva to provide the capital facility for microfinance loans for people the organisations work with, including victims of domestic violence. The purpose is to try and prevent people from being lured into long-term debt by loan sharks.
“For people that wouldn't ordinarily have access to fair finance, we want to do our bit to prevent these people getting into high cost, low value consumer debt,” Weston says.
Recently, big tech companies Facebook and Google have also taken a stand on the same issue, by both refusing to take advertising from payday lending services.