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Fintech, sustainability, and climate challenge

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The news that CarbonPay has launched a new payment card that helps users determine and offset their carbon footprint is a reminder of the efforts that fintechs of all types are making to support climate sustainability.

CarbonPay’s new offering, only available in the U.S. and the U.K., is a prepaid corporate card called CarbonPay Business Ctrl. The card sits in front of a company business account and comes with an administrator dashboard to enable individual card spending limits. Because the solution is a prepaid card, there are no credit checks, interest rates, or repayment due dates for cardholders to worry about. The card includes smart features such as automating offsetting, carbon footprint tracking data, accounting software integration, and expense management.

CarbonPay says that for every $1.50 (or £1) spent using the card, it offsets 1kg of CO2 at no additional cost. CarbonPay has partnered with sustainability-as-a-service platform Ecolytiq to provide carbon footprint tracking.

“The fight against climate change can’t be solved by a handful of people, it requires systemic change and for everyone to take action,” CarbonPay CEO and founder Rory Spurway said. “That’s what inspired us to create CarbonPay, to help people and businesses around the world make a simple, but impactful change which will help us all in the fight against climate change. We turn every transaction into meaningful climate action by automatically offsetting CO2 every time you pay. It’s a simple, but important step towards making a real difference.”

What other “simple, but important” steps are fintechs taking when it comes to climate sustainability? CommerzVentures recently set out nine fields that fintechs and financial services companies have pursued in order to address the climate concerns of customers and clients. Here’s a look at some of the major categories, and the way fintechs are innovating within them.

Carbon Offsetting

CarbonPay’s new prepaid corporate card, mentioned above, is an example of carbon offsetting in fintech. Carbon offsetting involves lowering or removing carbon dioxide and/or other greenhouse gases in one instance to help compensate for CO2/greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.

Carbon Accounting

Carbon accounting is a key part of carbon offsetting and involves measuring the amount of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases created by a given process. In the fintech context, companies like Meniga are working with banks like Iceland’s Íslandsbanki to launch solutions that track the carbon footprint of a customer’s spending decisions . Carbon accounting is related to ESG Reporting, which involves the disclosure of information on a company’s environmental, social, and corporate governance. This provides interested investors with the transparency they need in order to determine whether or not a potential investment is consistent with their environmental, social, and corporate governance values.

Impact Investing/Financing

Investment strategies that seek to combine positive financial returns with positive environmental outcomes are referred to as impact investing or financing strategies. Within fintech, a growing number of roboadvisors have sought ways to enable customers to invest in companies – or funds of companies – that have a proven commitment to climate sustainability. Also known as socially responsible investing, digital investment platforms from Betterment to Personal Capital have included these kinds of investing options for their clients.

Sustainable Banking

Sustainable banking involves using ESG criteria to set the policy agenda for otherwise traditional banking. Whereas banks and other financial institutions historically have focused on the balance between risk and return, sustainable banking adds another factor, impacts, to create a third dimension that bank leaders must focus on when running their businesses. The most common example of this in the environmental context is the effort by sustainable banks and financial institutions to invest in renewable energy enterprises while eschewing investment in fossil fuel companies.

Indeed, looking at the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which features the top 10% of the largest 2,500 companies in the S&P Global BMI based on their long-term ESG criteria, we see that those banks near the top of the list earned their lofty ranking in large part due to their hands-off attitude toward “dirty” energy such as oil and coal. BBVA, for example, secured the top spot this year as the most sustainable bank in the world – along with South Korea’s KB Financial Group. The Spanish bank earned credit for doubling its sustainable finance target and for issuing objectives to decarbonize its portfolio by 2030.

“This recognition confirms the success of our sustainability strategy and encourages us to continue working with the goal of accompanying our customers and society as a whole as they move toward a more sustainable and inclusive future,” BBVA Global Head of Sustainability Javier Rodríguez Soler said in a statement.

Written by David Penn, Finovate Analyst, to coincide with Earth Day 2022. Find out more about Finovate's mission to help make fintech events more sustainable >>

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