Banqer, the Kiwi cloud software designed to teach school kids financial literacy, is expanding into Australia.
Chief executive Kendall Flutey is relocating to Sydney as the startup enters a new phase, following two years in Aotearoa. This new phase offers a market opportunity of about $16 million per year, the Christchurch-based company believes.
Check out this podcast with Banqer's Kendall Flutey and Idealog's publisher and editorial director, Ben Fahy:
In short, Banqer is a cloud-based software tool designed for kids between six and 12 years old. In schools and classrooms taking part, each student is given a Banqer account with fictional money which they can spend in their classroom economy. “The money is virtual, but the classroom economy Banqer creates is real,” says Flutey. “Students experience saving, investing, borrowing, purchasing and other important personal financial concepts. From the basics of setting up automatic payments for weekly classroom wifi expenses, to saving for an investment property and calculating expected returns. Students can earn money through rewards for good behaviour and classroom jobs which they apply for with a CV.”
Banqer was launched in 2011 by four co-founders following a conversation Flutey had with her then-11-year-old brother. “I was blown away by how financially literate he was and found out it was thanks to his teacher who had initiated a virtual economy in the classroom using spreadsheets,” explains Flutey. “I met with the teacher and discussed building a higher tech solution. He jumped onboard and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Banqer won the Wellington Startup Weekend in 2014, and went on to take the $20,000 Webstock BNZ Start-up Alley prize in 2015. Supported locally by Kiwibank, Banqer’s software is used by more than 20,000 students in about 450 schools throughout New Zealand. A handful of teachers also use Banqer in the UK, Canada, South Africa and the United States.
“The children are absolutely loving it,” says Linwood Avenue School teacher Colin Hill. “Some children have actually looked into opening their own [real] bank accounts especially realising they are getting interest on their savings.”
Schools are charged $2 per student per term, but Kiwibank is currently covering this cost for all primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand.
Flutey will base herself in various locations around Australia to sign on new schools throughout 2017. Beyond Australia, Banqer plans to potentially expand into the US in 2018. “Financial illiteracy is a global problem so we need to be a global solution,” says Flutey. “I’m a firm believer that when it comes to money; knowledge is power. Banqer’s aim is to arm young people with the skills they need to make smart and informed financial choices as adults. If we do that, we think we’ll make strong in-roads at reducing inequality, crippling debt, and poverty in New Zealand and around the world.”