Not long ago, the business world paid lip service to sustainability; not any more. With global environmental problems escalating, green regulations are becoming mandatory in many countries. Green Banking, which is becoming increasingly visible, is leaving
an impact on its practitioners and their customers.
Their enormous scale of operation makes banks massive consumers of renewable and non-renewable resources; on the flip side, this means that they can make a significant contribution to eco-conservation by cutting back a bit. Electronic account statements,
online product requisitions and downloadable forms are now quite common. Besides saving paper and cost, they improve security and convenience from the customers’ perspective. The proliferation of self-service electronic channels has cut down investments in
massive energy-intensive branch infrastructure, while making customers more financially self-reliant and confident. Advances in communication and convergence technology are manifesting as audio-visual remote advisory services, which enable customers to connect
with a global pool of experts over a computer, ATM kiosk or mobile phone. Once again, the carbon footprint is reduced along with customers’ cost of transaction, while convenience goes up.
But this is not enough; the industry must assume a higher level of environmental responsibility. A prominent co-operative bank in the UK demonstrates its commitment to the cause by including several environmentally supportive products in its suite, including
a credit card that contributes to rainforest conservation while rewarding purchases of ethical products, and a car insurance product which offsets a proportion of the carbon-dioxide emissions of every vehicle insured with a donation to green projects. The
bank also pursues a customer-driven ethical investment policy which respects care for the environment, among other things.
Other green initiatives pursued by various institutions include responsible project financing, zero interest loans to energy saving projects, sustainable management of land and building assets, and carbon footprint balancing. While these measures may not
always directly benefit banking customers at large, they do so indirectly by improving the well being of our planet.
So what do you think? Green regulations are becoming a mandate for financial institutions. But what does it mean for the banking customers?