The fintech sector has changed how many people send, spend and receive money. Notables include neobanks such as Revolut and UK-based Monzo, digital payment platforms including PayPal, or ‘buy now, pay later’ companies such as Klarna. Even pre-pandemic in 2019, EY reported that 71 per cent of all Irish adults used a form of fintech service, a figure that is higher than the global average of 64 per cent.
The ensuing lockdowns fast-tracked cashless payments. The evolving sector has demonstrated its ability to engender behavioural changes across large demographic groups. To this end, it’s no longer just young people that are using fintech solutions.
Products such as Stripe, founded by Irish entrepreneur brothers John and Patrick Collison, Tide, a UK-based provider of SME accounts, and money transfer firm Wise have also had a major impact on how companies handle a myriad of business tasks.
For some of us in the field, attention has now turned to addressing one of the biggest issues we all face – how we can protect the planet. It’s a lofty goal, but a very important one. However, to achieve it we may require new tools to help us get a better grip on our carbon consumption.
That’s where Ekko comes in. It’s a simple concept that allows consumers and businesses to compare carbon consumption across the brands they engage with. By downloading a simple-to-use app, or signing up to a debit card service, currently available only in the UK, you can see the carbon footprint of your purchases.
The data is shown on an easy-to-understand dashboard and delivers information about the carbon footprint of your consumption. With this data, you’re able to get insights into your behaviours, and find ways to reduce your impact on the world.
The service is ready to be onboarded by Irish banks today to adopt for their customers. For business and the general public the solution provides more understanding of the carbon impact of their spending. That’s highly useful, as it allows people to make more informed decisions when purchasing from brands and encourages them to choose brands with lower carbon impacts.
Turning negatives into positives
In addition to informing consumers and businesses of their carbon consumption our organisation also undertakes positive environmental actions, such as planting trees or preventing plastic bottles from entering our oceans. These help to make a meaningful impact over and above reducing your own impact from what you buy.
The tree planting is done in partnership with the Mastercard priceless planet coalition, a leading scheme with a proven record of delivering major tree-planting projects across Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and the Middle East. In our commitment to prevent plastic hitting our oceans we’ve collaborated with Prevented Ocean Plastic.
Small changes make a big difference
Ultimately, we want to empower people to make more sustainable decisions across their daily lives. While each purchasing decision may feel small to begin with, it’s all about all of us making multiple better decisions every day that add up to a bigger impact together.
For example, I’ve been able to use Ekko to see the impact from all those unnecessary taxi trips I take when I’m feeling a bit too lazy to walk. Seeing my behaviour in cold, hard figures and becoming more aware of the environmental impact of my choices has encouraged me to make better decisions every day.
It’s my belief that by making small but meaningful changes to everyday life we can all make a difference together, but it starts with learning about our existing impact. Climate issues are complex but by focusing on progression, both private individuals and businesses, can start to move in the right direction and we need to start now.
Our platform can also be seamlessly integrated by businesses, banks, card issuers and payment providers. It would be great to see companies across Ireland step up to the plate here, and partner with businesses like us as we look to empower people to become more environmentally conscious.
Time for action
The fintech sector has changed so much of our daily lives. From cashless payments to digital wallets, many of us now rely on multiple options on every shopping trip. Now there is a tool that benefits environmental awareness.
A fintech such as Ekko can’t fix all the climate problems we currently face, but it does offer some of the tools needed to support the conversation to understand and change behaviours that will help to build a more sustainable world.