Three Coins GmbH

Three Coins GmbH
Three Coins pioneers a new educational technology for behavior-based learning about money. They develop a mobile game that trains young people playfully in managing their money
Social Purpose: 
Shockingly, both in the US and in Europe, the age group 20-29 records the fastest and most substantial growth rates of private indebtedness. In Austria, every fifth client in debt counselling is under 30 with an average of 32.000 EUR in debt. Young people find it increasingly difficult to deal with their own money responsibly, resist spending incentives, and understand how money decisions today will affect their future. At age 13-18 teenagers develop long-term patterns of dealing with money. The challenge: increasing teenagers' knowledge about financial concepts does not translate into improving their actual behavior with money. Yet, most financial literacy programs focus on teaching knowledge, instead of training behavior.
Social Impact: 
Three Coins intends to leverage teenager's sustainable behavior with money. Our program is about training basic behavioral elements that are needed for dealing with resources in a responsible way (which means to not overspend, while using your money in ways that doesn't harm yourself and/or your community). // The overall effects of our training method is to trigger teenagers' active reflection about their financial behavior and form attitudes towards money and spending. To achieve this goal, we start at a point that other financial education programs ignore. That is, the root challenge we face is: we are dealing with a topic that's deeply emotional to young people, very much connected to their personal freedom and status. Teenagers are mostly uninterested or even scared of learning about money and finance, since these topics impact their personal lives ("what can I afford, how should I live"). In addition, "money management" sounds like a too complex issue to opt into an active learning process. Hence, we deal with a topic teenagers will only seriously work on, if they are approached at eye-level and without the conventional appearance of educational programs. It's basically the same with healthy nutrition: You would not want to learn about it from somebody, who tells you "this is good for you, I will now teach you smart things about about it". Only if you opt into working on improving your health, you will benefit from a healthy nutrition training. // Therefore, our game has the following two functions: (1) We want to equip teachers, parents and youth workers with a tool that enables them to work with teenagers at their terms and in their space in an engaging way. Entering the topic by means of a mobile game will give the money-story a completely different twist. When we started the project, our assumption was that teenagers will be more ready to work on the topic, if a mobile game plays a significant role in the process. (2) We want teenagers to start thinking about money from a completely different angle: not from "okay, money is important, I should learn about it", but by immersing themselves in a game-story about a crucial resource. As the game unfolds, things start getting more and more complex and the player has to start developing strategies to keep her balance positive. These very strategies are also the basic strategies for successful personal money management in real life. Our assumption: The longer teenagers play the game, the more financially sustainable their CURE-management strategies will become. Hence, the following training/class will be more likely to actually impact the students' attitudes and behavior with money in real life. // We validated our assumptions by (1) programming a financial literacy score into the game, in order to track whether our targeted effects actually happened and then launching the game in Austrian app stores and by (2) organizing trainings in over 50 schools and youth centers. In some, we led the training ourselves, in others, we had teachers or youth workers do so. // The results: within 2 weeks, around 15.000 teenagers had downloaded and played the game. We looked at the (anonymous) game data and evaluated the financial literacy score. It showed a significant learning curve - the players actually started to adjust their strategies towards more sustainable money management, the longer they played the game. Regarding the trainings, our assumption proved true, as well. Approaching teenagers with the mobile game and then starting reflection process led to high student participation and more active conversations in the class room. Some teachers were even surprised to see students engage in class that hadn't been very active throughout the rest of the year. // Meanwhile, we also developed an evaluation tool together with the Vienna University of Econ and Business Administration, which enables us to measure longer-term effects of our training method. Basically, it's a randomized control trial that confronts different groups of teenagers with a pre-test, a financial education intervention (ie. our training vs. a budget workshop vs. the use of a money management tool vs. a placebo intervention like watching a soap opera), and a post-test after 2-3 months. Our assumption is that our training will produce significantly higher changes in attitudes towards and behavior with money, than other methods. While we have finished a first round of the trial (we measured effects of 3 different financial education methods), we will only be able to include our own training, as soon as it's fully developed. At the moment, we have the game finished, but still need to work on finalizing the training program.
Innovative Character: 
Three Coins pioneers a new educational technology to enable behavior-based learning about money. Our first product is a mobile game that works with adventure stories, mystery and metaphors, as opposed to being openly educational. // We develop our solution by inviting all relevant stakeholders to the table: debt-counsellors, teachers, behavioral economists, finance experts, youth workers, teenagers and game designers collaborate with us to create games, apps and workshop formats that nudge young people to train the basics of smart money management. // Our core focus groups are young people from low social backgrounds, as well as migrant families, since these are the most vulnerable groups (75% of debt counselling clients have finished school at 15 and 70% of private bankruptcies in Vienna are filed by people with migrant backgrounds).
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