What does digital banking have to do with trees (and climate change)? A lot.


Imagine Central Park with trees—the walkways remain ever so astir with the scintillating glint of children playing tag, chasing after their hurried youth, as their mothers watch protectively from afar, smiling under the soothing canopy of a magnolia tree. When the sun dips below the skyline, people filter out the buildings, taking solace in the cool, fresh air on their walk home, a chartreuse army of plane trees, lindens, and maples keeping them company.

Now imagine the same frabjous day above in a New York City without trees. Unimaginable, no?

Perhaps we need not imagine our world without trees just yet, but our reality is capricious when rooted in the devastating forecasts that scientists have presented. Between 3.5 billion and 7 billion trees fall victim every year to logging for global trade in wood products: and among the leading products? Paper. 

The world of finance unfortunately dominates as a top industry leading in paper consumption. Despite making some headway toward digital processes as internet banks emerge, the grand majority of banks have yet to sever ties with their mounds and mounds (and mounds) of paperwork. This problem is twofold: 1) customers are accustomed to the familiarity they have with physical documentation and human interaction, and 2) due to legal regulations and security issues, the canopy of red tape that surrounds financial services is dense.

But we are on track to lose a tropical forest the size of New York in 2022. Not New York City, but the state of New York. 

Using Standard Chartered Bank’s approximate metric that every employee uses 21.97 kilograms of paper, I set out to calculate how many trees banks can save by switching to digital banking.

First, I converted kilograms to pounds because America has yet to adopt the metric system.

(21.97 kg paper/employee) * (2.2 lb/kg) = 48.436 lbs paper/employee.

Then, I multiplied this number by the total employee headcount at Pacific Western Bank, a bank that has adopted fintech vendor Prelim’s platform, to determine the total amount of paper being used:

48.436 lb paper/employee * 2200 employees = 106,559.2 lbs total paper.

Then, I needed to determine how many sheets of paper this translated to. A 5 lb ream of paper holds 500 sheets of paper, which gives us 100 sheets/lb. 

106,559.2 lbs paper * (100 sheets/lb) = 10,655,920 sheets of paper. 

With this, I could calculate how many trees Pacific Western Bank could save annually by going digital with Prelim. The exact number of sheets that one tree can produce varies based on species and size, but an average industry standard is 10,000 sheets/tree.

10,655,920 sheets * (1 tree/10,000 sheets) = 1,065.592 trees saved by Pacific Western Bank, annually. 

By making the switch to Prelim, PacWest Bank not only can power all their products and services under a single interface, they’re making strides in assuaging the current travesty of the state of climate change.  

To learn more about how banking can be made easy for everyone, banks included, check out prelim.com for further details.