Can you explain blockchain to a five-year-old? It can be hard to do in this techno-jargon-heavy sector. However, that’s not stopping a handful of entrepreneurs focused on teaching younger children about “money and the future of finance through play,” as Filippo Yacob, founder and CEO of Pigzbe, puts it.

Yacob knows the territory. He is the inventor of Cubetto, an educational toy that teaches children as young as three the basics of coding. It has been sold in more than 100 countries. Now he’s focused on Pigzbe, a combination game and hardware wallet he calls “a 21st century digital piggy bank that runs on our own cryptocurrency, wollo.”

For young children, Pigzbe’s hardware wallet acts as a controller for a game in which they earn wollo for learning about finance. And parents can use that wallet as a portal for paying that all-important allowance, or even gifts, in cryptocurrency.

Toys and books are making cryptocurrencies a more familiar concept to children and their parents.

“One of our main aims is to help children become financially literate,” Yacob tells ThirtyK. “Traditional piggy banks only teach about saving and spending…. By tokenizing the piggy bank, we can now teach about exchanging and physical modeling as well.”

Disruption Made Elementary

Yacob says the traditional allowances parents pay children are due for disruption. “Young children learn best through rapid rewards,” he says, but parents often lack physical pocket change to pay them in the moments after they complete a task. Some traditional banks have created their own digital piggy banks, but they may charge transfer fees or create other barriers to microfinancing tasks such as taking out the trash or that one-off gift from Grandma.

Pigzbe’s hardware wallet and cryptocurrency addresses these issues, doubling as a secure cold storage wallet that kids can continue to use even after they outgrow the game, according to Yacob.

And the idea of facilitating borderless transactions with the wollo cryptocurrency reflects another, potentially much larger, disruption for the growing number of families scattered across the world. With international remittance fees averaging more than 7 percent, borderless transactions could have a huge impact on the $575 billion remittance market, Yacob says, noting that wollo’s presence on the Stellar network is “ideally suited to enabling globalized families as micro-financing networks, sending small sums of money regularly.”

Pizgbe has surpassed its soft cap of $2.85 million in private presales and has a public ICO scheduled for July; Yacob says the platform and wallet are scheduled for delivery in 2019.

Perhaps the biggest potential disruption of all, Yacob says, is making cryptocurrencies a more familiar to children and their parents. “For the vast majority of people, the world of cryptocurrencies can be complicated, confusing, and even scary,” Yacob says. “Most families don’t own cryptocurrencies for these reasons. The physical device makes this transient, abstract world real, simple, and familiar. It lets you hold the blockchain in your hands.”
Bedtime Stories

Another tangible sign of the blockchain starting to go mainstream is the small but growing number of books intended to introduce children to the technology.

IBM software engineer Brett Biery wrote “A Place in the Blockchain,” a picture book about a character named, of course, Blocky. “Blocky’s adventure to discover his place in the blockchain covers many of the same emotions children will experience as they deal with their own adventures of fitting in at school and with friends,” according to the author. “Children today will grow up in a world immersed in blockchain solutions, and this book is meant to be a fun tribute to the technology.”

Meanwhile, media producer Naomi Brockwell and illustrator Jason Chatfield teamed up to write “Billy’s Bitcoin,” in which the eponymous character faces down bullying “by implementing an ingenious new invention created by his dad… Bitcoin!”

“Very short, very simple story of how a kid used bitcoins (BTC) to make his life better,” one Amazon reviewer wrote.

Can’t make it to the bookstore? Square put a link to its own entry in the oeuvre, “My First Bitcoin and the Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto,” on its Cash App. That’s by design, of course. Explaining bitcoin to five-year-olds so that they can understand it will give their parents an education, too, and will make it easier to turn them into buyers.

Mark Toner
Mark Toner is a Washington, D.C., writer and editor. He has covered business, technology, media, education, and healthcare for a wide range of trade and industry publications.