How Spending “Green” Can Become More Green (Part Two)

Without even mentioning the actual paper it takes to print currency, banks can make banking much more eco-friendly.

Given that reality, our company has developed cards made from corn PLA material that are carbon neutral, biodegradable, recyclable and able to be safely incinerated. Even the metal EMV chips embedded for enhanced security can be removed and recycled at a separate facility.

We’ve recently been helping two model financial institutions, Banco Popular Dominicano and Coop Bank Denmark, transition cardholder portfolios over to these sustainable cards. Coop Bank Denmark opted for these types of cards with full contactless capabilities built in. These two banks and others running similar initiatives will realize the long-term benefits before they know it. They will be more renowned global citizens and will have no more burden than any other bank in replacing cards; they will just happen to be doing so with biodegradable ones. The flexibility and quality of this new breed of cards means neither banks nor consumers will have to give up security measures like EMV chips, durability, card customization or special marketing features.

Beyond cards themselves, actions currently being taken by banks and financial institutions most commonly combat the paper problem. Online banking and e-statements cut down on the paper needed for customers to keep tabs on their accounts. Online transactions and peer-to-peer money transfer services are increasingly replacing paper checks and tangible receipts. Online and auto bill pay keeps consumers from receiving and sending back as much paper material. Even many credit card applications, which have historically needed to be handwritten and physically submitted, can now be completed online.

Although there are junctures where paper is still seemingly unavoidable, as with fulfilling credit cards, there are arrangements that can be made to minimize an institution’s eco footprint. When things do absolutely need to be mailed, they can be distributed using 100% recycled paper. Taking things one step further, vegetable-based inks that are not toxic to the environment when trashed or incinerated can be utilized.

All of this work and overhauling of existing card portfolios and supply chains doesn’t have to be done out of purely altruistic motivations or intentions, though. Financial institutions stand to gain by making these changes. When those businesses offer more environmentally-friendly options, they garner trust, favorability and parallel commitment from their customers. That earned goodwill applies to all corners of the sustainable banking realm where banks can impact the environment in a positive way – and that impact can add up in an exponential hurry. In fact, as early as 2012, a GABV report suggested that sustainable banks were “outperforming traditional mainstream banks in many areas, including financial indicators such as return on assets, growth in loans and deposits, and capital strength.”

In summation, allowing consumers to access their funds and accounts in convenient, secure ways doesn’t have to take a toll on Mother Earth. But financial institutions must lead the way in ensuring we’re being green while spending green.