Teens come up with digital pocket money app

His peers spend their time playing, studying and hanging out with friends, but 15-year-old Raffles Institution student Rafael Soh is busy building his own company.

His start-up Bridge was one of 10 budding enterprises that were chosen to be part of the first cohort of a pre-accelerator by organisation StartupX in partnership with Temasek.

The pre-accelerator helps the start-up to gain advice and guidance, as well as build networks, to prepare them to take their product to the market.

His start-up, which was founded in January, aims to create a mobile payment and financial platform for teenagers.

His other co-founders are fellow students Robert Xiu, Ng Mun Hin, Heng Teng Yi - who are all 15 - and Chai Jia Cheng, who is 16.

Rafael said: "Essentially, we digitise pocket money by combining a mobile e-wallet, QR code-based payments and parental controls into one application.

"Through Bridge, teenagers will gain access to a mobile e-wallet with which they will be able to spend, budget and save up their pocket money.

"Their parents, on the other hand, can transfer pocket money (into it), track and supervise their children's expenditure."

He added that the way money can be tracked on cashless systems gives parents and children increased visibility and control over their cash flow. This will teach the teenagers how to better manage their finances and prepare them for getting debit cards in their late teens.

Trying to balance school and being a chief executive officer is challenging, he acknowledged.

"School hours and school commitments often occupy nearly two-thirds of our day, leaving very little time for us to work on Bridge or revise for our assignments."

Another problem is the concern of cyber attacks or fraud, since the app is a financial services platform.

"In order to ensure that parents can have a peace of mind when giving their children allowance through Bridge, we have invested a lot of time and effort to build a secure and reliable payments processing system," he said.

He added that the team wants to take the start-up all the way and turn it into a recognisable brand for teenagers, even after they finish school.

"In the future, we hope to become a personal finance brand that teenagers (can) relate to.

"We want to build our company around the mission of equipping teenagers with the tools to make better financial decisions, be it through granting them access to cashless systems or even being a platform for brands to list their best deals for teenagers to make the most out of their allowance.

"We have no plans to stop moving forward. We believe that Bridge will truly be able to benefit and impact the lives of our peers, and hope to bring that mission into fruition."