Would This App Make You “See Money Differently”?

Song-recognising smartphone application Shazam has joined forced with financial institution Nedbank to create an application which makes South Africans #SeeMoneyDifferently. By blending visual recognition technology with storytelling, the recently launched application aims to encourage South Africans to think harder about their finances, promoting smarter saving over reckless spending.

Hidden stories 

Inspired by the South African preference for cash over cashless transactions and very widespread smartphone ownership across the country, the #SeeMoneyDifferently app gives users the power to look at the cash in their pockets through different eyes – through their phone screen. When users open up the Shazam app, choose the camera option and point their phones at a note, the application will show the a story stemming from that denomination.

From how R10 launched international sporting careers, to how a note founded business empires and paved the way to global opera stardom, there are five amazing stories of growth, supplemented by money tips, waiting to be found in every South African banknote.

Changing perspectives 

But why are Nedbank and Shazam so keen to change the South African perspective on money? According to Nedbank executive ThulaniSibeko, it all boils down to financial education:

One of the reasons only six percent of the population will retire happily is limited financial knowledge… Ensuring that a higher percentage of the population starts seeing money differently and equip themselves with the necessary information to better manage their money and plan for their future…” 

A national movement 

Shazam and Nedbank aren’t the only organisations who are striving to change the South African narrative when it comes to personal finance. Long associated with high levels of personal debt and a “spend-now-borrow-later” mentality, South Africa has a real problem with low levels of financial literacy which are impacting the nation’s finances.

With Government failing to provide an adequate solution to what is a clear national problem, many other organisations and businesses have been working to help educate South Africans about money matters. From The digital Money Academy developed by Wonga, toOperation HOPE’s Banking on Our Future programme, there are now dozens of initiatives and resources out there, all geared towards educating South Africans about finance.

A drop in the ocean 

But is it enough? Without a country-wide Government sponsored programme of financial literacy, can these disparate efforts begin to make a difference to individual bank accounts and the nation’s worrying laissez faire view of money? With soaring national debt, a weak currency, an unpredictable political climate, rising living costs and a recession to deal with, will a handful of such campaigns really cut the mustard?

The answer is almost certainly “no”, and no matter how many people begin to #SeeMoneyDifferently, without the knowledge and tools to put that fresh perspective to work, it’s unlikely personal finances will improve any time soon.

Have you given the #SeeMoneyDifferently app a go? Was it a useful experience or a waste of time? Share your views with other readers below.