Weekly Wrap: “Is Our Children Learning?”

Willy Staley

By Willy Staley
Updated on Mon Jul 21, 2014

It has been more than a decade since George W. Bush, on the campaign trail in 2000, famously quipped to a crowd of South Carolinians, “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” Anyone who was a child on that day has certainly learned a lot in these past 12 years. Indeed, someone who was in the second grade on September 11th, 2001 — like the little ones Bush read The Pet Goat to during the attacks — will be graduating high school this summer, and will be able to enlist to fight in Afghanistan. What have they learned this past decade?

This week’s news was dominated by developments in the scary, scary world that today’s youth have inherited, and the people who want to help realize President Bush’s dream: that the children not be left behind, that they is our future.

And so the week started off with some good news. We learned about SmarterBank, a checking account from a Boston company called SimpleTuition, which is designed to help students chip away at their debt through a debit rewards program. There is more than $1 trillion in student debt in the United States right now, and that balance isn’t going down. SmarterBank customers earn bonus points called SmarterBucks, which are used to pay down student loans, at a rate of 0.5 percent for purchases under $100 and 1 percent on every dollar spent above that mark.

But of course, that came on the heels of some bad news: Citi will be ending it’s mtvU card, which offers rewards to students who get good grades. Instead, it will be replaced by the Citi Forward card starting this month, and it will no longer offer bonus points for good performance in school. Bummer.

Maybe those kids can hop over to prepaid cards, or that’s what Javelin Research thinks anyway. Banks, according to the study, have an opportunity with prepaid, to bring young people into the banking system despite the limitations of the new regulatory environment. By offering prepaid cards to younger consumers, and changing credit-underwriting standards to take different data into account, banks could potentially rekindle their frigid relationship with younger consumers.

But some banks still let kids actually do some real banking. Simon Zhen rounded up the four best kid’s savings accounts this week.

Speaking of the young ones, we also learned this week that the Girl Scouts are using mobile card reader dongles and smartphones to collect payments for their delicious, delicious cookies. It’s been a successful program, raising the question: why aren’t stories like these central to the way mobile-card-reader dongles market themselves?


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