A new piggy bank for the digital age has been introduced to the crypto-community. Ernit, the digital savings bank, allows children to save bitcoin and other currencies through its mobile application and its electronic piggy device. The founders of this project have children and wanted to teach them and the rest of today’s youth the importance of saving in this new virtual money environment.
“Just as you don’t HAVE to use ERNIT with real value like fiat money or cryptocurrency, I believe a lot of the education lies in teaching the concept of value an not necessarily in actual, exchangeable funds”
Bitcoin.com spoke with Ernit developer Thomas Bjerring to get an inside look at their new venture. Bjerring lets us know how children using Bitcoin and digital currencies with the Ernit a piggy bank can give them great visualizations and goals for saving digital money. The startup is using a Kickstarter program to help fund its venture.
Bitcoin.com (BC): How long have you guys been developing?
Thomas Bjerring (TB): We started the entire process with researching, conceptualizing, designing and building the physical ERNIT pig back in January 2013. The digital development started in early 2015.
BC: What gave you the idea to come up with Ernit?
TB: The idea surfaced on a new years eve almost 3 years ago, where Mads, Søren and I talked about the kids Søren, and I was about to have respectively, and how it would be impossible to give them pocket money when none of us ever carried cash. So that night we decided to create a physical piggy bank, where the real money and goals were visualized with light – all handled by an app.
BC: How involved with bitcoin are your children?
TB: They are both very young – 6 months and 3 years old, so the cryptocurrency discussion hasn’t really begun. Bastian, my oldest, knows about ERNIT though, and thinks it’s awesome.
BC: Do you think cryptocurrency, in general, is a great educational source for children?
TB: Just as you don’t HAVE to use ERNIT with real value like fiat money or cryptocurrency, I believe a lot of the education lies in teaching the concept of value an not necessarily in actual, exchangeable funds. However, I think it’s very important that the kids learn that things have different value and that the time saving for small vs. big goals differs a lot. Cryptocurrency will be a means to bring actual value into learning tools that aren’t controlled by banks, a thing I believe will take these tools to whole new level – and we’re doing ours in this matter!
“We have a still growing list of awesome things we’re going to add to ERNIT.”
BC: Can you explain how Ernit works?
TB: Basically, ERNIT is a platform for setting and reaching goals by saving money for them. In other words: ERNIT is a piggy bank, however in a slightly different form than what you’re used to.
We have a partnership with a financial partner that allows you to transfer money (Fiat & bitcoin) directly to your ERNIT account with credit/debit cards, bank transfers, and bitcoin transactions. It also allows you to connect to services that do. These services include compatible banks and existing digital fiat/Bitcoin wallets that you may already be using. It is important to say that ERNIT does not actually hold your money, it visualizes balances through connections to external providers.
Or you can simply choose to use ERNIT with “funny money”.
No matter what you choose, ERNIT will provide you with a platform that helps to teach your kids about value, whether it is measured in dollars, euro, yuan or bitcoin.
An example of a user flow example would be:
First, your child sets one or more goals using the ERNIT app. The goals can be set for anything large or small: a teddy bear, a bicycle, a gift for Grandma or even a donation for charity.
Once the goals are set, your child’s loved ones can begin contributing to ERNIT by quickly and easily transferring money directly into the system. Both the app and the piggy bank alert your child when a contribution has been made to the savings account.
When your child claims the transferred funds, the app responds, and the piggy bank lights up and makes a happy sound in celebration of each step closer to the goal.
The string of lights around ERNIT’s snout is a regular reminder of progress – and a conversation starter. The lights go from 0 to 100 percent, and when the snout is all lit up the goal is reached.
This all adds up to a better learning experience for your child who gets an idea of how digital money works. This way, ERNIT helps you start the conversation about value, patience, and goals.
BC: Do you think your system makes bitcoin a little more friendly to use?
TB: Definitely. It puts a layer on top of it; that makes it simple and easy to manage. This goes for using ERNIT with and without BTC/fiat money.
“ERNIT gives your child a smile on their face while empowering them with healthy financial habits.”
BC: Can you tell me how it works with multiple currencies?
TB: If you choose to set up an ERNIT account with real money/BTC for you and your child, you’re able to define which currency the account should be stored in. The money you transfer to your child’s ERNIT account (bank tx, credit/debit card or btctx) will be converted into the currency you’ve choosen – it could be USD, EUR, BTC, etc). While the funds are inside your child’s account, you (or your child) can distribute them to a from goals as much a s you like. When a goal’s been reached, you as a parent can either cash out (withdraw) or simply reward your kid and put the funds from the reached goal back into ERNIT for distribution to new goals.
BC: What is the next goal for the business after if you reach the Kickstarter fund backing?
TB: We have a bunch of things we need to do:
Further development of our app’s wallet/bank integration APIs
Adding more features into the app
Purchasing the injection molds that will provide us with high-quality parts needed to deliver a consumer-grade product
Getting the production of ERNIT units going in additional colors
Letting us do one more beta testing of the whole system with up to 25 families
Besides that, we have a still growing list of awesome things we’re going to add to ERNIT, so the money is really hitting a dry spot 🙂
BC: What’s your overall mission with Ernit?
TB:We have a clear vision: We want to empower children with healthy financial habits.
Besides that, we have 3 USPs:
Making conversation: ERNIT sparks conversations in the family about money and values at home.
Achieving goals: ERNIT teaches your child to set goals and reaching them.
Having fun: ERNIT gives your child a smile on their face while empowering them with healthy financial habits.
Thank you, Thomas, for speaking with us about this cool product. Teaching children about saving digital money is of great importance to us here at Bitcoin.com. We look forward to upcoming developments in the future for ERNIT, and we will keep our readers informed as time progresses.
What do you think about digital piggy banks? Let us know in the comments below!
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Images courtesy of Redmemes, Shutterstock, Ernits Kickstarter, and Pixbay
Jamie Redman is the News Lead at Bitcoin.com News and a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open-source code, and decentralized applications. Since September 2015, Redman has written more than 6,000 articles for Bitcoin.com News about the disruptive protocols emerging today.