FutureTech Friday: Bank of Ireland’s Eco-Friendly Cards; Zurich’s Climate-Focused Fintech Incubator; and More!


Sometimes “futuretech” means technology that helps ensure that we actually have a future!

This week we’re taking a look at recent initiatives in the fintech world to help promote sustainability. These efforts have been growing as more and more companies respond to customer concerns about the impact of their financial behavior on the climate. From technology that helps consumers measure and track their carbon footprint to new payment cards that eschew plastic for renewable, environmentally-friendly materials, businesses in the fintech industry have pursued a wide variety of strategies in support of “climate consciousness.”

The news that the Bank of Ireland has begun issuing new bio-sourced debit cards is one of the latest examples of this trend. The cards are made from 82% bio-source renewable materials such as field corn and decompose in months – compared to plastic, which lasts for hundreds of years. The cards will be available to both personal and business customers and the Bank of Ireland expects its entire portfolio to be switched over to the bio-sourced cards by 2026.

“The environmental credentials of these bio-sourced cards are exceptionally strong and with 60,000 already being used by third-level students, we will now radically expand the rollout across our entire cards business in Ireland and the U.K.,” Bank of Ireland Chief Sustainability & Investor Relations Officer Eamonn Hughes said.

The Bank of Ireland expects to save 17 tons of CO1 and nearly four and a half tons of plastic every year with the new initiative. The Bank first issued bio-sourced debit cards for third level students in September 2020. In addition to the new bio-sourced cards, the Bank of Ireland also announced that it was upgrading its card designs to make it easier for users to correctly insert the cards in machines and ATMs.

The decision to pursue bio-sourced cards is based in part on research the bank conducted on young shoppers over the past year. The Bank learned that 63% of those in Ireland between the ages of 18-25 have become “more aware of shopping sustainably” over the past 12 months. Additionally, more than half of those surveyed, 54%, said they were “happy to pay more for sustainable goods.”

In other fintech sustainability news, Zurich-based F10 is hosting what it calls the world’s first climate-focused fintech incubator in the Nordic region. The six-month program will feature startups from the U.K., Israel, Sweden, Lithuania, Switzerland, and Canada that are innovating in areas ranging from sustainable investing to waste trading. Head of F10 Nordics and Baltics Anders Norlin said, “the variety of climate fintech solutions presented reinforces the interest for more innovative solutions in the needed transition towards a net zero society.”

The startups participating are: Azzera (Canada), Eljun (Sweden), GreenGrowth (U.K.), OCO (Lithuania), Spritju (Sweden), SustainSME (Switzerland), Weather It Is (Israel), and Xworks (U.K.).

U.K.-based digital challenger bank Tandem launched its Tandem Marketplace this week. The new offering is a consumer-based hub for information on how to live a more sustainable life with tips on everything from retrofitting your home to keeping energy costs low. For example, among the tools available on the Marketplace are an EPC (“energy performance certificate”) checker to help U.K. homeowners understand their EPC and learn ways to improve it.

“We are in the middle of a climate crisis and a cost-of-living crisis,” Tandem Chief Impact and Marketing Officer Georgina Whalley said. “People shouldn’t have to choose between heating and eating. This is why we have created our Marketplace, people need more information and support to make greener choices.”

Tandem Marketplace is only the most recent sustainability initiative the bank has pursued. In September, Tandem Bank announced that it had joined the Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings (CEEB) sponsored by the Green Finance Institute. The coalition consists of more than 300 businesses and organizations from finance, policy, and civil society, working to develop a market for financing net zero carbon and climate resilient buildings in the U.K.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for Tandem to join leaders across a range of sectors to develop green and innovative financial products that will address the retrofit investment gap,” Tandem Bank CEO Susie Aliker said. “With over 28 million homes in need of retrofitting by 2050, collaboration is key to successfully tackling Net Zero targets.

Founded in 2014, Tandem is one of the U.K.’s original digital challenger banks.

Photo by Mahima