Osper reinvents banking for young people


Osper, the new Prepaid Debit Card and mobile banking app launches today, reinventing the world of money management for under 18’s.

  • New Prepaid Debit Card with Mobile Banking App for young people and parents 
  • Confronts systemic issues of financial education and family money management 
  • Mobile-only, branchless banking for young people offers empowering, safe service 
  • Over $10m funding secured from Index, Horizons and leading start-up CEOs 

The London-based start-up aims to tackle the lack of financial education for the UK’s seven million 8-18 year olds by instilling good money habits earlier in life. Its mobile-only, branchless, simple and secure banking service encourages greater financial freedom and responsibility - equipping young people with the money management skills needed for adult life.

The service is composed of a MasterCard® Prepaid Debit Card accompanied by a simple mobile app, which comes with separate logins for both young people and their parents. Osper is suitable for 8-18 year olds and designed to give parents the confidence to transfer more responsibility to their children with regard to making money decisions. Rather than parents’ handing over cash or lending their own credit card for online purchases, young people can use their Osper card in stores, for cash withdrawals at ATMs and for online purchases and service subscriptions such as Amazon and iTunes.   As Osper Cards are prepaid - young people can only spend the money they have available to them – Osper is not a credit card.

Alick Varma, founder of Osper, commented: “While UK retail banks currently offer debit cards to people aged 11+, data suggests that young people’s needs are not being met by financial services at the moment. Despite three quarters of young people having a bank account, less than 30% use online banking1 and there is a heavy reliance on parents lending cash or their credit card for purchases with one in five UK children using their parents' cards in secret2. There is a need to reinvent banking for young people; they should have the tools to build self-confidence to manage money from a young age.”

Osper is focused on redesigning banking from the ground up for young people through devices and experiences they understand. Osper’s “dual-app” for young people and parents, with real-time monitoring of spending and loading, will create more transparent and open conversation about money. Simple features like “Osper Allowance” with SMS alerts, will kick-start their habit of weekly or monthly budgeting from a young age.

Additional benefits include:

  • Easy, safe setup - The ability for parents to get up and running in under two minutes, for free, from mobile or web. Fraud and identify checks in real time removing the need to visit a branch.
  • One app, two logins - A secure banking app which both young people and parents can download and log in to from their own mobile phones to manage the same Osper Card.
  • Instant Loading - The ability for parents to instantly load money from their Debit Card onto their child’s Osper Card account instead of giving cash or in emergencies.
  • Monitoring spend - Instant balance checking and monitoring of transactions, including Osper Alerts - SMS alerts for transactions declined due to insufficient funds.
  • Card Lock - Simple card lock function both young people and parents can use directly from the app if the card is lost or stolen to block all purchases.
  • No overdraft - No overdraft facility, so young people can only spend the money they have – it’s not a credit card.

The company has raised over $10million in pre-launch funding and is backed by Index Ventures (Dropbox, Mind Candy and King), Horizons Ventures (Li Ka-Shing’s venture capital arm - Spotify, Facebook and Skype); industry leading investors such as Peter Jackson (CEO of Travelex), and Darren Shapland (ex-Chairman of Sainsbury's Bank); as well as the entrepreneurs behind businesses including Streetcar, Lastminute.com, Jawbone, SoundCloud, Skyscanner, Funding Circle and Mind Candy. 

Osper was created by Alick Varma, an entrepreneur who formerly trained as a maths teacher and was himself given responsibility for managing several hundred pounds a month at a young age by his accountant parents. Having previously worked with category-defining mobile and digital businesses including M-Pesa (the mobile-payments platform in Kenya), and Spotify (the global digital music player), Varma has ambitions to transform the lives of millions of young people around the world with Osper.

Alick Varma, Founder of Osper, continued: “Increased financial independence is hugely important to ensure young people enter into adulthood with the self-confidence needed to manage their first pay cheque or university loan. Parents currently spend an average of £10,000 a year on their children but young people are only accountable for around 5% of that3 – this leads to far too many young adults leaving home without experience of budgeting and unprepared to manage the financial responsibilities ahead of them.  Osper gives young people the freedom and control needed to ‘learn by doing’ within the framework of a safe and secure family environment.”

Robin Klein, Investor in Osper, Index Ventures, added: “We have huge confidence in the purpose and global potential of Osper. Its smart and simple mobile approach will no doubt generate huge interest from young people and their parents and give them the tools to have an open dialogue about financial responsibility. We are proud to be invested in a service with such ambition.”

Peter Jackson, CEO, Travelex and Investor in Osper: “Osper provides banking for young people using the devices they understand – no branches or cumbersome setup process, just user-friendly mobile apps within a safe, secure and regulated environment. I have no doubt the service will disrupt consumer banking for young people and beyond.”

Parents and young people can download the app for free via the Apple App Store or Google Play. (young people can login on their parent’s mobile device if they don’t have their own). The Osper Cards are free for the first year, and then an affordable £10 per year thereafter. To find out more or order an Osper Card for free, please visit https://osper.com or watch the clips below.

Read Robin Klein's blog post about Osper 'Next Generation Banking'.

Published — June 30, 2014