Hong Kong students use digital pet to promote financial skills amongst their peers

  • A team from Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School created the Tamagotchi-like pet as part of the Hong Kong Innovation Challenge
  • The competition was part of the “Building a Financially Capable Generation” scheme run by Junior Achievement Worldwide and supported by HSBC
Donna Mah |

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The "Hong Kong Innovation Challenge" was held using a hybrid format, with participants joining on and offline.

Learning about money, including what it is and how we use it, is an important part of growing up, so a group of Form 4 students from Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School came up with an original approach to help today’s younger generation gain these valuable skills.

They created a concept that likens good money management to a digital “pet” which can be “fed” with savings, along with a series of tasks and activities to mindfully help manage its growth.

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This was done as part of the “Building a Financially Capable Generation” scheme, a global financial education programme run by Junior Achievement Worldwide (JA) and supported by HSBC. In May, it gave secondary students the opportunity to learn about good financial habits and understand key principles of monetary management with a series of workshops, guidance from mentors, and related exercises and initiatives.

More specifically, it saw 11 teams from almost 80 secondary schools competing in the “Hong Kong Innovation Challenge,” held on May 22.

Their task was to develop an interesting and creative way to teach financial skills and encourage healthy saving habits for young people. In doing so, participants also became more confident about their choices and recommendations, and recognised the importance of financial resilience.

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The competition was judged by Brian Hui, Head of Customer Proposition, International and Marketing for HSBC Hong Kong’s wealth and personal banking division; Suzanne Yeow, Head of Marketing at the Bank’s Wealth and Personal Banking; and Dr William Lo, president of JAHK.

“I’m very impressed with the creativity the teams displayed; they know their peers’ needs and financial habits better than anyone,” said Hui. “Financial capability means having the skills, attitudes and tools needed to manage money effectively. By partnering with JA Worldwide, we aim to help young people around the world learn to manage their money effectively through a new mobile app and classroom-based learning. This competition gave local youth an opportunity to build up their financial skills and put their ideas into practice.”

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The winning team was “Coinnie-chiwa”, comprising of seven Form 4 students from Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School. The inspiration for “Coinnie”, their imaginary pet, came from the Tamagotchi, the Japanese handheld game which was popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The winning project from the team from Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School, "Coinnie-chiwa".
Coinnie would be a handheld device linked to a smartphone app, allowing users to take care of their electronic pet, while also paying for its expenses.

“When we started working on our project, we realised we needed to create something likeable and fun,” said team member Tiffany Cheng Uen-kiu.

The "Coinne-chiwa" team with (L-R) Mr Brian Hui, Head of Customer Propositions and Marketing, Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC (judge); Dr William Lo, JP, President of JAHK (judge); Mr William Chiu, Head of Future Skills, Corporate Sustainability, HSBC (mentor); and Ms Suzanne Yeow, Head of Marketing, Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC (judge).
The device they designed is similar in size to the original Tamagotchi and would let users make cash deposits at convenience stores. Doing this earns points and changes the on-screen image.

“Coinnie grows as your savings grow,” Cheng said.

The app also includes games that reinforce money management concepts, with users able to earn points to keep Coinnie happy.

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Team member Meras Ng Yui-yi said the group worked very hard together, despite not being close friends before the competition. “By communicating a lot as we designed and developed Coinnie, we learned more about each other and how to work as a team.”

They also studied existing apps to help them design the visuals and spent a great deal of time rehearsing for the Zoom presentation to the judges. The team subsequently went on to compete in a global challenge against contestants from 12 different countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, and the US. There, Malta took first place.

The winning "Coinnie-chiwa" team of Form 4 students from Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School.
“We learned a great deal from participating in this event and are grateful for the experience, especially the programme design and the mentors’ input throughout the activity,” Cheng said. “It’s really inspiring and the mentors gave us very good guidance, enabling us to turn “Coinnie-chiwa” from a wild idea to a solid plan.”

“We were keen to see if we, as young people, could come up with new ideas to help our peers gain financial skills in a fun way,” Cheung added.

Edited by John Cremer.

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