Keep kids off your back by sending money via text message

ATMMy daughter's only 5, but when she asks me for money so she can buy a toy, ice cream bar or whatever, my typical response is, "What do I look like, a bank?"

As students head back to school soon, the parents-as-ATMS method of buying things is going to increase. There are books, lunches, school supplies, tuition and many other things to buy for a child going to school. The constant nag to open your purse or wallet on the spot and pull out some cash can be annoying.

Here's an easier way to get nagged by your kids for money and to give it to them -- by text message on your cell phone.

Obopay claims to be the first service in the United States that enables people instantly get, send and spend money with a text message.

PayPal recently launched a similar service, so I'm not sure how unique the Obopay method is. But it is an interesting way to pay friends, family or your gardener.

Once you sign up for an Obopay account, you can use your mobile phone to text money to someone from your account. You can also move money on Obopay's Web site, or take advantage of even more ways the company offers to move and track your cash . Even non-customers can receive money in their checking account at no charge via Obopay.

Sending money or accepting a request to send money costs 25 cents. Adding money to your Obopay account from a debit or credit account carries a 1.5% fee.

Your kids can either move the money to their bank account, or, if they're 13 or older, the money can be added to a prepaid MasterCard debit card that they use like a credit card. Parents can also track on their cell phone where their money was spent.

"It's the easiest way to get money fast to your kids and track how they're spending it," said David Schwartz, senior director of product and global marketing for Obopay, in a telephone interview from the company's offices in Redwood City, Calif.

College students and other "mobile youth" are most likely to use the service because they're most comfortable with it, Schwartz said. The lower the age group, the higher the acceptance of mobile payment.

Started in 2006 and named after the original currency the obol in Greece, Obopay may help to someday make the world a cashless place.

You no longer have an excuse for not having any money in your wallet.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at
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