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Interview: Sibstar, the fintech app for dementia sufferers

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Creator of app and debit card made to support people coping with dementia tells Computer Weekly the way the idea developed

Karl Flinders

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Published: 02 Sep 2022 16: 00

When Jane Sibleys mother began losing tabs on her finances because of dementia, she set her mind to locating a way on her behalf mother to retain her independence while protecting her money.

With her father in a nursing home, her mother begun to really battle to understand everyday finances. Sibley said her mother was falling victim to scams, taking right out multiple cash withdrawals and giving it to homeless people, and was overspending on food. She was capable in so many ways, but her capability to understand money was diminishing.

After heading down more traditional avenues, Sibley and her husband finished up creating a fintech, referred to as Sibstar. We tried plenty of various things, including high-street banks along with other pre-paid debit cards, but none really worked, she said. We finished up having to eliminate mums usage of money, that was an extremely tough decision.

This caused problems because routine is essential for people experiencing dementia. By firmly taking away financial independence, you essentially eliminate independence, said Sibley. She could no more go out to, for instance, purchase a newspaper. What we spend our money on is section of who we have been, our identity.

This is really sad and we thought there needed to be another solution to enable my mum to call home independently so long as possible while knowing her money is safe and sound.

Personalised services

Fintech is really a broad sector that provides an array of financial services to people and businesses with different needs. The opportunity to create apps that focus on a particular groups needs is essential today as people seek personalised services.

This goes beyond targeting certain consumers with certain demands and isn’t always about maximising work at home opportunities, with fintech used to support people who have specific needs with regards to financial services. Sibstar can be an example.

Sibley said: Sibstar originated from my very own lived experience looking after my parents also it really was through my mums condition that the theory came.

She was prepared on her behalf mothers struggles after gaining experience from her dads condition. We knew that protecting her finances would be important, she said.

That has been when Sibley developed the theory for Sibstar, a debit card created for people suffering from dementia. It really is preloaded with some money having an app that sits on the household carers cellular phone, enabling them to choose how and where that money could be spent.

Limits on spending and cash withdrawals could be set, and ATM withdrawals could be started up and off.

Changing needs

The merchandise is adaptable to the changing needs of individuals, as their needs do change because the condition progresses, said Sibley. Functionality could be added once the condition progresses.

Sibley does not have any IT, banking or payments background, but sent her idea to the Alzheimers Society Accelerator Programme. We got right down to the final 10 and went and pitched to the innovation team and we received a location, said Sibley.

She said this unhooked lots of things.

It had been the very first time we’d written down the theory and was the very first time we’d been told it had been advisable, she added. This is a game-changer it went from a concept to we need to take action now. I’m not ashamed to state I literally Googled: How do you setup a pre-paid debit card?

Getting the backing of the UKs largest dementia charity opened lots of doors for Sibstar, said Sibley. Suddenly individuals were taking my calls plus they were thinking about talking, she said. This included Mastercard, which includes supported the business.

Trying

Sibley then viewed other organisations doing similar things for different groups, did some research and began calling issuers, processors and programme managers.

She was introduced to a specialist who, on a pro-bono basis, caused Sibstar for 18 months, including guiding it through the procurement of a developer. Sibstar uses software developer Pannovate because of its app.

The app took in regards to a year to build up and people are actually using it. It really is great to listen to from individuals who it really is helping them, said Sibley.

The Sibstar service includes a 4.99 set-up fee, a 4.99-a-month subscription and a 99p charge per transaction. A proportion of profits will head to causes the organisation believes in, with the Alzheimers Society already receiving 7.5% of its net profit.

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