Discussing the rise of sustainable fintechs and demand for greener financial services, founder and CEO of Embedded Sustainability provider ekko, Oli Cook, speaks to how the payments industry has a role to play in sustainable decision making.
Sustainability has become more than a buzzword in recent years, as more and more financial organisations are integrating green initiatives into their operations. A range of climatetechs and sustainability-focused fintechs are focused on making both the financial industry and the world a greener place. The rise of these companies comes alongside both consumer and stakeholder groups for sustainable initiatives as well as an increase in ESG standardisation, and regulation.
Explaining the fundamental intersection between fintech and sustainability, Cook discusses how transactions can empower individuals to make more impactful lifestyle choices throughout our daily lives.
The purpose of ekko is to aid people in making sustainable purchasing decision in their day-to-day routine by providing real-time carbon emissions data, says Cook.
“What we have built at ekko is a tech platform that can plug into any payment transaction happening around the world and empower it with sustainable outcomes, nudges, or impact. We want our technology to plug into these transactions and help people make more conscious financial choices, and encourage those decisions with powerful input on the back of it. We have a menu of sustainable solutions such as carbon tracking, offsetting, plastic waste removal, reforestation, animal conservation, and the list goes on; you can plug that into any payment or purchase experience, anywhere in the world.”
The fintech works in partnership with Mastercard and became the first UK fintech to join the Mastercard Priceless Planet Coalition, which is committed to planting 100 million trees globally before the end of 2025.
Cook adds that the company released a debit card earlier this year aimed at consumers to aid them in their daily decision-making. The app tracks users’ consumption behaviours, and relays their climate impact back to them in a way that is tangible and real. Cook states that demand for the debit card is growing at an exciting pace, especially now it is being offered to employees as part of business employee benefits schemes.
The app keeps track of users’ carbon footprints, and directs them towards greener behaviours. This positive psychology is proven to have a more profound impact on consumer decision making, says Cook, and has been more effective in driving long-lasting sustainable lifestyle swaps.
Users are able to establish how much impact their choices are having on the planet, as they can view their carbon footprint to see how much plastic they have stopped from entering the ocean, and how many trees they have planted by acting more sustainably.
Cook describes ekko as “embedded sustainability” that can be plugged into any bank, payment provider or card issuer in the world and empower their consumers to make more sustainable choices. He furthers that sustainability is something that needs to be embedded in every aspect of society.
Cook emphasised the impact that ekko can have on users: “If you feel you are doing good regularly, you will do more good. Our research shows that positive reinforcement does work and people are changing behaviours to make more sustainable choices beyond ekko, in places where it is not tracked or documented because we empower them to do so in their day-to-day. This is where you can see the magnitude of how fintech can play an incredible role.”
On future trends within the sustainable finance sector, Cook highlights that consumers, investors, and employees are demanding greener values within companies. He says that he is glad to see how companies are including sustainability and ESG targets as an integral part of their values, rather than just a side project. Concluding on the updates he would like to see in regulation, Cook advocates for heavier regulation around impact, which can help people measure and see the effects of sustainability frameworks in a tangible way.