Halifax launches online banking for children

Halifax has launched an online banking service aimed at helping 11 to 15-year-olds better manage their money

Halifax has launched an online banking service aimed at helping 11 to 15-year-olds better manage their money.

The service provides financial education and online safety information, as well as access to the Halifax mobile banking app. It was designed with Childnet International and The Money Advice Service. 

The Expresscash account, as it is known, is the same as the online banking service offered to all customers but has the educational material on top.

Halifax head of digital Anita Hockin said online banking is having a positive impact for customers. 

“That is why it is extremely important to introduce our younger customers to this, and help them make the most of their finances," she said.

“A lot of work is being done to improve financial education for children, and what better way for them to learn than through the management of their own accounts in a forum that will be second nature to them.”

Halifax, part of the Lloyds Banking Group, said online accounts can promote better financial management. 

According to research from the bank, online banking customers have higher average savings balances compared with their non-online banking equivalents, and access their account more frequently. 

It also showed online banking users are more likely to shop around for alternative financial providers, with more than a quarter using more than three different financial providers, compared with less than a fifth (17%) for those who aren’t online.

Childnet International CEO Will Gardner said learning to use the internet safely and responsibly is an essential skill in the lives of young people, including how to manage money online. 

“We fully support efforts and initiatives like these to help equip young people,” he said. 

Money Advice Service CEO Caroline Rookes said developing good money-management habits early is vital. 

“Our research tells us that the proportion of young adults making mistakes with their money in the first years of financial independence is very high [72%]," she said.

"A particular tipping point comes when people turn 18 and get access to credit – many young people think it is essentially free money and do not take into consideration that they will have to pay it back with interest.”

Young people can be especially vulnerable to poor financial desicion-making because many haven't had the chance to manage their own money, added Rookes.

“By gradually taking on more responsibility for their own money, rather than relying exclusively on their parents, financial independence need not be such a shock," she said. 

"Learning how to keep track of their personal finances online is great way for young people to learn as they bank.”

Banking the most popular digital service in the UK

It is not just the young that can benefit from online banking, according to research from Fujitsu. A study by the firm revealed banking as the most popular digital service in the UK

Meanwhile, separate research from banking industry group the BBA showed about 2.3 million people between the ages of 70 and 100 bank online.

The BBA said nearly 6.5 million people aged more than 60-years-old bank online. This compares with about 15.7 million between the ages of 18 and 34; and 12.5 million between 35 and 49-years-old.

Traditional banks must invest in digital technology, such as mobile apps and online platforms, to retain customers. Research from Vocalink’s mobile banking subsidiary, Zapp, revealed a massive 21 million British people would change banks to access mobile payments, with 33% of these planning it over the next year.

The research, carried out by Atomik Research, showed 44% of consumers plan to switch accounts if their current bank has no plans to offer mobile payments.

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