A platform prepares millennials for financial independence
THE government's Thailand 4.0 plan heralds a future economy increasingly driven by innovation and new technology. Money matters and the livelihoods of the Thai people will be affected by the reshaping that accompanies new technology. Our lifestyles have already changed due to the overwhelming influence of mobile devices and, notably, moves toward a cashless society.
Based largely on human-centric design, new technology plays an important role in lifting the quality of life and narrowing the gap in access to services. Digital banking services, enhanced by advanced technology, now facilitate financial transactions online at a lower cost while also avoiding the risk of carrying cash. Now we further exploit technology to upgrade human potential, for example in our use of software applications that help in learning and teaching via a broad range of media used to impart information.
Kasikornbank (KBank) has initiated a project using new-age media to present financial knowledge to young people (15-20 years old) as they transition to adulthood with the accompanying potential to earn money and the responsibility to spend it well. They will need financial literacy and know how to save, spend and invest and beyond that, how to start their own business as a means of sustainable self-reliance.
It's not easy to teach young people about financial matters. To draw their interest and help them realise the importance of being literate in financial matters, we try to communicate with them via the online community www.afterklass.com, a platform created by KBank as part of our "Enjoy your life - Your financial buddy" concept. In it, we simplify finance-related issues, making them everyday topics and thus easier for young participants to digest.
The programme consists of two parts. The first part is the Afterklass website, which has a responsive Web design (RWD) that renders Web pages readable on a variety of devices. It features financial content on three main topics selectable according to the user's interest - Biz Klass, Smart Klass and Play Klass. Users can express their opinions as well as post comments and share knowledge with their friends. Numerous interesting financial and investment tips are available, such as an interest calculator for beginners and a guide to saving for European trips before reaching age 25, etc. Moreover, users may take part in daily and monthly quizzes to accumulate Koins, which are used as a means for buying goods and redeeming rights to participate in year-round Afterklass activities.
In addition, learning is made fun via the second part, our Afterklass City game embedded in the website. The avatar-styled game is available as Android and IOS apps simulating a number of real characters.
Players can start playing with the "finding jobs" game in the fields of financial investment, medicine and entertainment. As salaried citizens of the Afterklass City, players must also work to save enough money for a better life. They are also entitled to get loans, invest in property, stock or funds to bolster the value of their "Gold".
Along with a banking function, the game is clearly about gaining a grasp of financial management and investment skills to earn simulated "Koins" and "Gold" within an ecosystem that we developed. This user-friendly financial management simulation is designed to enable youths to learn about deposits, fund investment, economic and trading risks, as well as real-world financial situations. As a result, players have to keep abreast of news and thoroughly study information before making decisions. They must also understand the Koins/Gold exchange function, the trade/commerce function via premium stores and related VAT payments. Players that accumulate the highest values of Koins/Gold in each Klass are entitled to scholarships from KBank worth Bt50,000 each.
We are doing this because we should. This is a part of our commitment as a financial institution. The programme is also in line with our sustainable development policies. We hope that the young generation will become interested in finance, business and investment. Our |programme should spark their desire to begin investing and have a business of their own with the help of online community platform. Afterklass is a channel to transfer knowledge, and a force to build a foundation of |knowledge and understanding about personal finance that is a fundamental life-skill today, and as such, |important for Thai youth.
Having been launched more than three months ago, Afterklass has received positive feedback from its young users. There are now approximately 4,000 subscribers nationwide on the website. We are expanding the membership base, while continuously developing other online platforms. Our bank believes that our determination to provide financial literacy via Afterklass will build immunity to economic shocks and foster good financial health for Thai young people by helping them become financially independent.
This is one of our strategies derived from our goal to become a Bank of Sustainability, which will, eventually, help drive the economy and social development in a concrete manner, paving the way for sustainable growth in Thailand.
Adit Laixuthai is senior executive vice president, Kasikornbank