What you need to know about: Otly!

Written by Lori Campbell on 22nd Jan 2021

With coronavirus accelerating our transition to a digital and cashless society, more people are turning to apps to teach their children about money and give them some safe autonomy over what they spend and save. 
However, it can be easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps and products on offer – especially when they all appear to do the same thing on the face of it.
In response to demand for more guidance on how to choose between different products, Good With Money has introduced ‘need to know’ product and provider reviews.
Here we look at Otly! – a free “digital allowance manager” that encourages and rewards your child for saving towards their goals. 

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What’s the deal?

Founded in the Netherlands, Otly! has two parts – the ‘Otly!’ app for parents, and an optional companion app ‘Otly! Junior’ that can be downloaded onto your child’s device.

Parents use their app to set an automatic weekly or monthly allowance and keep track of their child’s money including how much they’ve earned through pocket money, chores or gifts from friends and family, and how much they’ve spent.

The Otly! Jr. app enables children to start saving towards specific goals. They can separate their money into different savings pots, see graphs of how their savings will grow over time and get a countdown to their next allowance.

Children have to send a request to their parents to spend some of their money online. However, this only works if the app is connected to a bank account – a feature that isn’t available yet in the UK. For now, parents use their own money to pay for items their child has saved up for and then take the amount off of their balance on Otly!

Otly! has plans to allow a select number of retailers such as Playstation and Nintendo to offer gift cards through the app, so parents can add to those instead of giving money. The idea is that these would come with an incentive such as discounts on products with those retailers.

User-friendliness

The ideas behind Otly! are good, but it still has some work to do to make the app easy to navigate. While the graphs and countdowns to the next allowance make it visually appealing to children, some of the functions such as connecting a bank account are there but don’t work in the UK. This makes it a bit confusing to use.

Is it safe?

Using Otly! without connecting to your bank account is completely safe. It is simply a tool to help you keep track of how much you owe your children (so you don’t have to remember yourself!), and encourage them to save for the things they really want to buy.

Otly! is working on introducing gifts cards which will enable parents to safely pay onto them, and with them. It also does not sell your personal data.

Sustainable option

Otly! isn’t a bank and therefore doesn’t have a sustainable option as such. However, its Head of Business Development Tal Berlinsky told Good With Money that the brand is committed to sustainability by encouraging a transition to a digital economy and teaching children to think about how and where they spend their money.

Unique selling points

  • Savings jars. Children can set up virtual savings jars to save up for the things they really want to buy
  • Multiple child accounts. Add as many children as you want for free.
  • Parental control. Children must send a request to their parents to spend their money online (though this is currently only possible in the Netherlands)
  • Countdown to payday. A visual countdown to the next allowance keeps children motivated
  • Giving to charity. Otly!Give enables children to donate some of their money to charities

The plus points

  • A starting point for parents to talk about money with their children
  • Automate pocket money. Set a recurring weekly or monthly pocket money amount
  • Connect with other family members. Enable others to give cash gifts, such as on birthdays or Christmas, digitally

Any drawbacks?

  • Otly! can’t yet connect to a bank account in the UK. In the Netherlands, parents can only do this if they have an account with Dutch bank bunq.

Cost of use

Otly! is completely free to use. It makes its money not from selling your data (reassuringly), but by asking the companies it works with to pay a small commission each time the app is used to pay online. This makes it unique in the world of pocket money apps for children, as most of its competitors make their profit by charging users a monthly or yearly fee.

Otly! does not yet, however, offer a prepaid debit card, which is a draw of this type of app for many children.

How do these costs compare to competitors?

Otly!’s competitors such as gohenry and iallowance both charge £2.99 per month, which includes the use of a prepaid debit card. Rooster Money is slightly cheaper at £14.99 a year for the whole family to use the app and its more advanced features (such as setting an interest rate on savings), and £24.99 for the year to include the prepaid card and parent account.

Gimi offers a ‘Gimi Master’ paid-for subscription service, which includes a Mastercard that can be preloaded by parents, although this is not yet available in the UK.  In Sweden, the cost of Gimi Master is currently equivalent to around £3.45 per month (with the first 15 days free), or £41.60 for the year.

Other options

Similar pocket money apps worth considering are:

gohenry

Rooster Money

iAllowance

Gimi


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