One of my favourite examples of how FinTech can help to drive change across the financial ecosystem is Starboard Card. Although it’s yet to launch formally (the website says ‘launching 2022’) it’s been recently publicised and I love the idea.
The service – as the name alludes – is aimed at owners of (super) yachts who, prior to Starboard launching, have a rather difficult time of managing the day-to-day aspects of running a luxury ‘boat’. Everything from making sure docking fees are paid, food and other supplies are purchased regularly, crew are paid easily, expenses are managed and so on.
If you sit back and think of the complex financial demands of managing a yacht, very quickly you can see that although the banking industry supports this at a basic level – Visa/Mastercard/Amex is accepted all over the place, right? – the reality is quite different on a day-to-day basis.
Sure, you can give the Captain one of your American Express cards. (In fact, I hear that’s often what a lot of yacht owners actually end up doing – although I should point out I’m not speaking from direct experience!) But isn’t there a better way? What happens if someone forgets the PIN? Or when the card expires? How are you paying your crew efficiently and effectively? How do you explain the weird and wonderful expenses on everything from daily fresh flowers to tens of thousands of pounds of fuel costs? Who’s keeping all those little paper receipts together for the owner’s accountant? How do you manage petty cash or unexpected expenses?
There are of course other options out there. Take a look at the likes of well known European expense management system Pleo as an example. This is a step-above giving the Captain your Amex. But there’s an opportunity to go even more in-depth, to fit the precise demands of luxury yacht ownership and management.
And this is where it gets exciting for me: It’s a little like embedded banking on steroids. I think there’s a strong use case for these types of fully-customised-for-a-specific-industry FinTech services on-going.
I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next with Starboard Card. Bring on the launch and good luck to the team there.
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