A 13-year-old with access to his parent's iTunes account can potentially rack up a sizable bill in an afternoon of Candy Crush -- a tab mom might potentially refuse to pay because she didn't authorize the purchase. Payments company Oink has created a solution that lets kids buy what they want, but still stay within mom and dad's budget. With the service, parents can tie a credit card to the account and set limits on exactly where funds in the account can be spent, as well as how much money can be used in a single purchase.
Oink works similar to PayPal in that purchases can be made online using just a username and password. A child could be given a certain amount of money to spend on their favorite game each month, or can be given an allowance that can only be used at a few specific retailers. Purchases can also be restricted by rating (to prevent the purchase of mature games), and can be disabled quickly if payment info falls into the wrong hands or a parent wants to temporarily prevent a child from spending. The service is available now in a number of online retailers and popular games such as Habbo Hotel, and the company is currently in negotiations to expand to even more (a process that requires a developer to add just nine lines of code, so in theory we could see more compatible sites right away).
At GDC this week the company also told us it plans to release a physical card sometime this summer. The card would work anywhere Discover cards are accepted, and could be used to buy everything from dinner out with friends to a taxi ride home afterwards. Just like the online product, parents would be able to control spending limits and locations. Every purchase is also tracked online and broken down in an easy-to-read pie chart, so kids can learn a bit about budgeting while they're out buying that new pair of shades at the mall.