Digital technology is enhancing countless aspects of our lives, including our personal finances, where FinTech companies and digital networks allow us to make everyday payments in the blink of an eye.  

It’s easy to take for granted the freedoms and independence this gives us, but for some businesses, like Mastercard, it’s imperative that all groups of society — including those that are typically underrepresented and excluded — have the same access to financial tools and technologies, and enjoy the same advantages, as everyone else.

Jayne Sibley’s mum, June, lived with dementia for seven years before her death, and for many of those years, the family dealt with challenges around June’s day-to-day spending and money management.

“My mum was a kind and lovely, generous lady. She would take money out of the cashpoint two or three times a day and give that cash away,” explains Jayne Sibley, Co-founder of Sibstar.

“She would visit shops multiple times a day and buy the same product again and again because she’d forgotten she’d purchased it, and she definitely fell victim to fraud over the phone a lot.”

It reached a point where the family had no choice but to take away June’s access to money, to protect her finances.

“When you take away someone’s financial independence, you take away their independence,” says Jayne. “There’s no longer the trip to the corner shop to buy the paper and the milk, and chat to your neighbours on the way.”

It led to Jayne and her husband creating the very first debit card for people living with dementia, in partnership with Mastercard and the Alzheimer’s Society.

“Just because you have dementia doesn’t mean you can’t choose your grandkids’ Christmas presents or buy your sister a coffee at the coffee shop,” says Jayne. “What we spend our money on makes us who we are.”

Research shows that being independent and socially active can slow the development of dementia. With Sibstar, a person living with dementia can use a debit card that’s managed by their caregiver through an app. Here, the caregiver can set parameters around how the money is used.

When Sibstar approached Mastercard with the idea, it was quickly turned into reality.

“What we’re able to do when a company like Sibstar comes to us with an idea, is to be able to connect that idea, [and] connect their consumers, into our network,” says Mastercard’s Kelly Devine. “So, all of a sudden that payment card can access all the merchants that accept payments across the UK — whether it’s in person, a corner shop, or being able to shop online.” 

Kelly Devine, Mastercard Divisions President, UK & Ireland
Kelly Devine, Mastercard Divisions President, UK & Ireland

Mastercard is continually developing innovations to include more people across financial services, working with traditional banks as well as FinTechs. 

According to The Financial Conduct Authority, over a million people don’t have access to banking in the UK.

“There’s something called the ‘Poverty Premium’ — that’s the amount that people pay extra because they don’t have access to digital payments,” explains Kelly.

“So, for example, if they’re feeding the meter in the wall rather than being able to pay their electricity bill online, that can amount to an extra £430 a year that people [who aren’t digitally included] end up paying.”

Algbra, an online bank that is ESG and sharia compliant, is another FinTech partner of Mastercard’s.

Their purpose, explains Nizam Uddin, Chief Strategy Officer, is to open up the financial sector to women and people from Muslim, Black African and Black Caribbean communities.

Nizam Uddin UBE, Chief Strategy Officer, Algbra
Nizam Uddin OBE, Chief Strategy Officer, Algbra

“Mastercard was a no-brainer for us; they’re fully aligned with our vision,” he says. “It’s their global vision to bank over a billion people around the world, but locally, they are really committed to making sure different community groups have access to fair finance.”

“At the moment, a million people are unbanked,” says Kelly. “13 million people aren’t financially resilient. If we were able to bring all those people fully into the financial ecosystem, that could be worth seven billion pounds a year to the UK economy.

Inclusion should help both the economy and people. For Jayne, Sibstar is for the nearly one million people living with dementia in the UK.

Her experience with her mum will now help them live a better life for longer.

Explore more innovations, insights and interviews around how finance can be made fairer for all, in our news-style programme, Finance: Equity and Inclusion.