OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more


An innovative tool that teaches children and young adults financial education, empowering them in a fun way.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
5 3

Written by

PlayMoolah was conceived in 2008 by Audrey Tan and Min Lee while they were studying and working in Silicon Valley.  Audrey describes the conception of this idea in the videos above.  As a student who was also working, living far from her home in Singapore, she was faced for the first time with new types of financial decision making.  How to allocate her paycheck?  There was rent, a car etc. etc.  As she describes it she was taught early on about the importance and value of saving money.  She was taught the basics.  She did not know about budgeting, investing.  Speaking to peers it became clear quickly that this was a common experience.  They were all in the same situation - ill prepared for this transition.   This was at the same time as the  financial crisis.  They were aware of problems faced by many friends and their families during this time.  Some youth were assisting families to pay off debt.

"This started the journey of PlayMoolah – If I wasn’t taught this (financial literacy) at a young age, can we empower children at a young age perhaps to cultivate some of these habits overtime?"  

By chance one of their professors introduced them to the idea of persuasive technology, using computers to elicit behavior change.  This lead to an exploration of gaming technology as a means to create opportunities for children and parents to think about money in a different way, to open the door to conversations about money.  

PlayMoolah was developed. 

"How we can earn, save, invest, spend, and give in a way that allows us to live our dreams and create more value in the world?  PlayMoolah has developed a framework to outline the 5 Pillars of Money to guide a holistic view of how money can be stewarded through different behaviors." (see illustrations above)                                                                                                                           

It is a product consisting of apps, online and for devices.  It has expanded it's scope to include apps for young adults as well.  These apps are experience simulators where young adults can make financial decisions overtime - experiencing buying a car, a house.   Feedback from youth - They want more - expand the experiences to play out throughout the lifespan.    

You can learn more about the development of this project from the interviews in the videos.  The design process that they went through, which included co designing with children, iterating, is described there!                                                              

When asked what insights she gained by co designing with children Ms. Tan replied that she learned that this process inspired conversations between parent and child and it inspired the parents in many ways. "I learned that there is so much to learn from kids and their relationships to their parents."


The way this project was conceived stands out for me. Finding themselves, and their peer community, in an ill prepared situation the founders reflected on it and decided to tackle it as an important project to empower children and youth going forward.  

In the second video Audrey Tan discusses working between Singapore and the US tweaking products and services for specific community needs - creating a product that is scaleable but also considering local context.   

How can we collaborate effectively, helping to identify gaps, needs, for individuals and communities - and design for those specific needs?  How can we tune in as observers to find the gaps?

How can we think about services, programs, platforms that are scaleable but also can be adapted to fit into local context?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein

Fascinating. I like the honesty circles.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel


Photo of Trevor z Hallstein

My sense is that incremental shifts in behavior require something above and beyond learning the mechanics of the 5 pillars of money, a corresponding emotional shift, and the honesty circles seem like a way to create that connection within yourself and with others.

View all comments