BMO Harris Bank Cardholders Support Reforestation; Rabobank Offers Carbon Insights

Last week for Earth Day we talked about the different ways that the fintech industry is responding to the climate challenge. Since then, there’s been even more news on that front – in this case from a pair of banks that are giving their customers the ability to contribute personally to climate sustainability.

First up, BMO Harris Bank announced late last week that it is enabling its cardholders to support reforestation by donating their points to support the Priceless Planet Coalition. The Priceless Planet Coalition reforestation initiative was launched by Mastercard in 2020 and is partnered with Conservation International and the World Resources Institute. The Coalition has a goal of restoring 100 million trees by 2025.

BMO Harris Bank’s policy will enable cardholders in the U.S. to donate up to 500 of their accumulated points to Conservation International. Donating points is easy; cardholders can sign up for the program via BMO Digital Banking on their mobile app or online, then select the credit card account from which the points will be donated.

“Being part of Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition is just one of many actions BMO is taking to support a sustainable future,” BMO Financial Group Head of North American Personal and Business Banking Ernie Johannson said. “What we do today will determine how our world looks tomorrow. In addition to BMO’s own bold actions to grow the good, we are proud to invite customers to join us and to make action as easy as redeeming their card points. Together, our efforts can make a big impact toward sustaining a healthy environment.”

Carbon tracking, as we mentioned last week, is among the more popular ways that fintechs and financial services companies have empowered consumers to better understand the impact of their spending habits on the environment. Rabobank, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services company, just announced that it will enable 1,000 of its Rabo payments accountholders to see the impact of their consumption on the climate – courtesy of a Carbon Insights feature on their Rabo app.

“With Carbon Insights, we make consumers part of the solution, just like we do with sustainable farmers who can earn carbon credits through carbon storage in their farmland,” Rabo Carbon Bank CEO Barbara Baarsma said. “Together our eight million private customers can make a difference and combat climate change by changing their spending patterns towards a smaller carbon footprint. For example, by buying different, less carbon intensive food they also stimulate supermarkets to offer more sustainable products.”

Rabobank developed its Carbon Insights capability in partnership with green fintech Ecolytiq, which has partnered with a number of financial services companies to help them develop climate sustainability-based solutions. Ecolytiq, leveraging the European Union’s Open Payment Standard, provides Rabobank with Dutch CO2 values per euro and spending category (food, transportation, clothing, etc.). Rabobank manages the secure environment in which accountholder payment data is processed, ensuring that customer data remains with Rabobank and that data is not used for any other purpose.

Underscoring the emphasis on privacy, Rabo Carbon Bank Product Manager for Carbon Bank Retail Fadoua Ajjaji explained, “Of course we don’t know the exact products somebody buys in the supermarket, so the CO2 emissions remain an estimation. For the calculation we look at the payment itself, not the actual receipt. Customers can provide additional information, if they eat meat or own a car, which allows us to make the calculations more accurate.” Ajjaji called carbon tracking “a missed opportunity” when it comes to meeting the climate challenge “as gaining insights is the first step in making more sustainable choices.”

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