At Smart Money People we're passionate about innovation within financial services, and love to learn more about new product launches and start-ups within the industry.
Earlier this week we caught up with Aidan McAllister and Nick Thompson, co-founders of GuardianCard, which launched in early 2021, to find out more about what GuardianCard is, why they decided to launch the company, and more about their recent research on vulnerable customers.
What is GuardianCard? How does it work?
GuardianCard is a revolutionary financial service that has launched to help provide a safe and secure banking solution for relatives who want to assist in managing the finances of older or vulnerable family members, without removing their independence.
GuardianCard has all the functionality of a debit card, but also allows the cardholder to issue a virtual card to a relative or carer so they can shop or pay bills on their behalf with total control and transparency.
Why did you launch GuardianCard?
We launched GuardianCard after personal experience saw us both care for older relatives’ finances. Covid-19 has created a real problem in this industry, in that it has become even more difficult to keep older relatives safe and secure from dodgy scams and fraudulent activity.
We wanted to offer a product that was safe, simple, secure and allows family members peace of mind so they can try and prevent their older/vulnerable family members from being victims of financial fraud.
Is GuardianCard safe? What measures are in place to protect users?
It is safe. With your account, you can set spending limits so the person with the card doesn’t go above any set budget.
App technology also allows the cardholder and a trusted relative to receive real-time transaction reports to help spot any suspicious activity. A handy feature given our In Safe Hands report revealed one in four people over 70 have been a victim of financial abuse.
You can also:
- Receive online statements
- Manage each card and account easily from the app
- Choose where the card can be used (in-store, online or at the ATM)
- Block and unblock cards with the touch of a button
We’re constantly looking at new updates to help our customers feel safe and have a number of new features that will be brought on board in the very near future, including, geo-fencing and time blocks.
Is GuardianCard just for elderly family members?
It isn’t - this is for any family member who may feel vulnerable to financial fraud or may find looking after their finances overwhelming.
What are your aspirations for GuardianCard?
We have very ambitious plans for growth, including growing to 100,000 members over the next five years.
We have also pledged to donate five per cent of our annual profits to our internal Golden Years Community Project - a platform dedicated to supporting the older generation, as well as giving each staff member three days off a year to volunteer with their chosen charity.
It’s important that we provide and maintain a community feeling for our customers.
Tell us a little more about both of your backgrounds, how did you come to launching a fintech from a financial services background?
We’ve both worked together for a number of years at The Phone Co-Op, where our roles focused on providing excellent customer service for our clients as well as providing tech solutions to the care industries.
For us, personal experience is what really drove us to launch this innovative product. When we both came to look after our older relatives finances, we realised there was no support for the vulnerable members of society and those that were looking after them.
What are your thoughts on innovation in the UK fintech market?
This is certainly an exciting industry. The world has changed so much, even just in the last year with COVID. With changes in behaviour and technology, finance is now even more accessible and inclusive and we see this developing a lot further in the future. With our customers being at the forefront of our mind, it’s important that we stay ahead of new developments and updates to ensure our customers are receiving the best quality care and experience they deserve.
You recently launched an In Safe Hands report, looking at financial abuse in the elderly. What most surprised you from that research?
I think the most surprising result for us was a quarter of elderly people had been a victim of financial abuse. Out of the 2,000 70+ people surveyed, 55 per cent also admitted to feeling worried/scared of falling victim to scams. Furthermore, 26 per cent found dealing with finances complex - highlighting that there is a real need to support elderly and vulnerable communities.
Smart Money People's recent research found that in 2020 apps overtook branches as a more popular form of banking in the over 65s. Do you think Covid-19 has had an impact on how the elderly and vulnerable manage their money?
I think it has. This has been a very unusual time for all of us, we’ve all had to adapt and find new ways of navigating through life, and in particular our finances. For a long period of time, the elderly were told to shield and many had to self-isolate, meaning they had to find new, innovative ways of managing their money and relying on other people to do so.
Money is traditionally quite a sensitive topic for discussion among family members. What advice do you have to start the conversation, for both the family members helping and the family member being helped?
Conversations around finances can be awkward and sometimes avoided altogether. The pandemic has accelerated this, with our research revealing 14% of those aged 50 to 70 having to step in and get involved in their parents’ finances.
Our advice would be to always be open and honest with the family member who may need help. Always be mindful that the person who needs this help and support may feel like they’re losing a little bit of their independence. Highlight that you’re trying to help alleviate the stress for them and allow them to enjoy life, without having to worry about any dodgy scams or incidents.
GuardianCard lets you experience a full membership for one month, it is a great way to find out if the service works for your family. You can cancel your membership at any time, so there's no risk in signing up.