The future of banking: check your balance and your carbon footprint

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Ben Gleisner, founder of Cogo, says the company now has over 100 employees in Wellington.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

Ben Gleisner, founder of Cogo, says the company now has over 100 employees in Wellington.

By the end of next year, banks that don’t have carbon footprint calculators built into their retail banking apps will be in trouble, says Ben Gleisner, founder of Wellington-based tech firm Cogo .

In Australia, Westpac and Commbank, the owner of ASB, have integrated Cogo carbon calculators into their banking apps that calculate people’s carbon footprints from their spending data.

“You’ll soon be able to do this on your New Zealand banking app,” Gleisner said. “It’s inevitable that he comes here, it’s just that the Australians beat us to it.”

New Zealand banks plan to move to a net zero future, including for their KiwiSaver programs, but have started by focusing on their largest commercial borrowers, Gleisner said.

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“All banks around the world start with their huge energy-intensive sectors, but these sectors will represent 10% or even 20% of their entire loan portfolio,” Gleisner said.

To succeed in decarbonization, they need to decide what to do to move their massive home lending customer base to low-carbon tracks.

“They’re all planning it, it’s just how fast different banks decide to move,” Gleisner said.

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Banks abroad that have integrated the Cogo calculator, including ING in the Netherlands, offer it as an easy activation feature.

One click, and the bank’s customers will have an estimate of their carbon footprint.

“Now you just have to press a button and in 0.3 seconds everything is understood,” says Gleisner. “We can do it very quickly depending on your bank details.”

Once banks integrate a carbon calculator into their retail banking apps, they could start targeting green advice and loan offerings for things like solar, electric vehicles and insulation, which could help save households money and carbon in the long run, Gleisner said. .

“They can focus green lending based on more personalized information,” he said.

Banks could also offer offset options, so people can get to net zero by buying credits in projects to reduce climate emissions.

Westpac is planning a carbon calculator for its retail customers, but has not yet set a target date for its introduction.

Kirk Hargreaves / Stuff

Westpac is planning a carbon calculator for its retail customers, but has not yet set a target date for its introduction.

Neither Westpac nor ASB have confirmed that they plan to follow their Australian relatives in integrating Cogo’s calculators.

Westpac spokesman Will Hine said, “Carbon tracking is a useful tool, and we have already provided support for a standalone app version of Cogo.

“We plan to make more such features available to customers in the future, but we haven’t decided on the implementation path yet.”

Gleisner said research conducted by banks indicated that most people wanted to know their carbon footprint.

A Canadian bank, Cogo, worked with surveyed customers and found that only 1.5% of people did not want to know their carbon footprint and 85% wanted to know.

“It’s a North American bank,” he said.

Cogo’s mission was to try to bridge the “value-action gap,” a term that captures the idea that most people want their life choices to reflect their values, but fail to do so.

“Our product aims to fill that gap,” Gleisner said.

Cogo now has more than 100 employees and has offices in eight cities overseas, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Melbourne, Singapore and London, Gleisner aims to make it one of the largest companies in the country.

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