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The risk of mismanaging funds is high among people living with dementia. And according to Jayne Sibley, co-founder at U.K. FinTech startup Sibstar, this is not only challenging for those involved, but for their families as well.

It’s a situation Sibley said she knows all too well as a caregiver of parents who both have dementia. “My mother would give [money] away. She would take money out of the cash point and then lose it. She’d overspend. And all the money that she and dad had worked so hard for was disappearing in ways it wouldn’t have if she had not had dementia,” Sibley told PYMNTS in an interview.

Those are the challenges that she said led to the launch of Sibstar, a new Mastercard debit card and app designed to empower people with dementia to manage their everyday money with discrete oversight from a relative or loved one.

Basically, the debit card is preloaded with funds and then a relative, who receives a notification each time a transaction is made, can monitor transactions remotely and instantly determine how and where the money is spent via the Sibstar app. For example, they can set daily or monthly spending limits, decide how much cash can be taken out or switch on or off cashpoint withdrawals.

“What customers are saying is that [the product is] a really nice way of keeping an eye on the person that they care for and love without being overcontrolling and overbearing,” Sibley explained, adding that the product adapts as the needs of the person with dementia evolves.

As she said, “We are about enabling the person with dementia to spend their money for themselves by themselves. Just because you have a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean to say you can’t live independently for as long as possible.”

Tackling a ‘Growing Global Issue’

Digital fraud has skyrocketed in recent years, with bad actors getting smarter and more sophisticated in how they attack businesses.

In fact, research published in PYMNTS’ 2023 “B2B Payments Fraud Tracker” shows that more than 7 in 10 businesses report needing additional digital fraud solutions in order to effectively keep fraudsters and scammers at bay.

It’s a challenge that Sibley said notifications are helping to solve, as well as the ability to freeze and unfreeze the card instantly in the app if it gets lost or if it’s being used “somewhere that your parent might not necessarily go to.”

Caregivers can also auto-top up the card just once a day — a feature Sibley said removes “those stressful decline moments at the checkout” but at the same time prevents a scammer from using the card to purchase a £500 TV when the daily spending cap is set at £50.

That, and the fact that phone transactions are switched off altogether, are some of the measures Sibstar has put in place to curb fraud, she said. “From my own experience, my mum was falling victim to a lot of phone scams, mostly fake insurance policies. But with phone transactions now switched off, the transaction just won’t go through.”

Looking ahead, Sibley said they are focused on building the “profit with purpose” business by laying down strong foundations from which they can scale. And with demand starting to come from other countries such as the U.S., New Zealand and Greece as well as from families with people living with other conditions such as Down syndrome, opportunities for business growth are endless.

“Dementia is not a U.K. problem. It is a growing global issue and the struggle of retaining financial independence for people with dementia is the same wherever you live in the world, Sibley said. “And we can help those people, that’s really what our driver is.”

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