Dementia has a huge effect on how people manage their finances. While several banks do offer some solutions for this, Sibstar has recently entered into the market and made this challenge its main priority.

Jayne Sibley founded the company using her lived experience to create a service that tackles this gap in the market and make financial management easier for families suffering from dementia. Following on from a recent successful appearance on Dragon’s Den, Sibley discusses the benefits of Sibstar and how it stands out in the financial industry.

RBI: How does Sibstar work?

Jayne Sibley: Sibstar is a debit card which is preloaded with your chosen amount of money. Then, it is also an app that sits on your caregiver’s phone. It’s within that app that you can control where that money is used. This means you can set monthly spending limits, daily spending limits and how much can be taken out from a cash point. You can switch off cash point withdrawals altogether or switch off phone and online transactions. You can instantly freeze and unfreeze the card. Every time the card is used, a real-time notification is sent to your caregiver’s phone to say the card has just been used, along with where and how much was spent. Families tell us this is a really lovely way of keeping an eye on your loved one without being over-interfering and overbearing.

It is all about empowering vulnerable adults to remain financially included, to have their financial independence and so they can continue living life the way they choose. So much about dementia takes away. This is about giving back. This is about saying it’s your life. It’s your money, you spend it for yourself and by yourself for as long as possible.

RBI: How do you decide what level of control someone has over the account?

Sibley: We’ve purposely built Sibstar so that anyone, regardless of where they are on their journey with dementia can have a Sibstar card. A couple of people we met in the research who were living with dementia said, this helped me help myself. They don’t want my family involved yet and they are able to understand their finances, but know they need to manage themselves better. So that person can have the card and they can have the app on their phone and sign up exactly as you would any other bank account. The second way to have a Sibstar card is that you understand your finances, but you just need a little bit of support. You can have a card and the app and a family member, for example, can have the app as well, and you can do it together.

The third way, which is where 70% of our customers come, is to have a lasting power of attorneys in place. They simply have the card, and then their caregiver manages everything on the app, we check that lasting power of attorney and verify it with the Office of the Public Guardian. It’s this piece that is really valuable to this audience group. We know two banks have tried deliver a service like this. However, some of the high street banks, which are less able to move, adapt and be as nimble as we as a fintech would be.

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RBI: How does Sibstar help reduced users being victims of fraud?

Sibley: You can switch off phone and online transactions. Scammer call on the phone, and you’ve got phones switched off phone transactions switched off, just simply won’t work, that transaction just won’t go through. But, before that, you can only lose the amount of money that’s held on that card. If you’ve got £50 held on the card you’ll only lose that much. Your money is protected purely by the fact that this card only holds your spending money. It’s really important to say that we are not in competition with the banks. Your pension, gas bill, everything still sits with Barclays or wherever it is, this is a separate service. We can sit alongside your regular banking, and it’s about managing your everyday money. That’s really how we position ourselves. It’s about the safe management of your everyday money. There’s no big banking, there’s no big sort of standing orders to change or direct debits or change that or should and will stay there. You’re never going to lose your pension to a scammer. Because the money is simply not sitting on your card and not going into your Sibstar account.

RBI: You say you’re not in competition with banks, but a lot of them do offer similar programs. How does Sibstar differ from these? 

Sibley: We are the only person who is entirely dedicated to serving vulnerable adults. This comes from my lived experience, all of our customer service team have experience of caring, all dementia. We are entirely dedicated to serving and meeting the needs of those vulnerable adults, and we understand them and know them better than anyone else. Because this is all we do. We obviously have a very efficient way of enabling two adults to manage one account, and we enable that through the lasting power of attorney service. So that is a very strong element of what we offer. You can get things like a secondary card on an existing account at Starling or Barclays, but both customers need to be Barclays customers. So that’s only limited Barclays customers. These are often limited. The other services out there are often limited to those banks, and they lack the security and control functionality that we have. Few of them have the switch on and off functionality, like switching off cash points, the monthly limits and daily spend, but it doesn’t tend to sit in one place. Whereas it does with us.

RBI: How beneficial has the partnership with Mastercard been?

Sibley: It’s been incredibly beneficial, you know, to partner with a brand that has global scale and reach is really important for our growth and our ambitions as an organisation. They’ve given us a platform on which to tell our story. That may sound like a small thing, but it really isn’t. For a small fintech led by a female entrepreneur, there are not many female fintech founders, let alone those that don’t know anything about banking, I think it might be the only one. Platforms on which to build our network tell our story are important. Mastercard has helped us raise our profile and get us known. That’s important in this sector, where we do need to come together and work together collectively to serve these underserved audiences.

RBI: What are your goals for the rest of 2024?

Sibley: We want to secure three or four key partnerships across 2024 across the banking sector, charitable sector and public sector. We hope to build our reach and enable Sibstar to be used by as many people as possible, and help as many people as possible. I think that can be achieved by those sectors coming together, you know, partnering with when organisations within another large UK charity which will enable us to reach another audience group. We already get calls from people whose family members have a gambling addiction, who have a learning disability or are living with autism. We can quickly see who else we can help.