Global

Promoting Sustainable Finance with Engaging User Experiences and Inclusive Policies

March 07 2022

Part of our Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance Series

As the world faces an increasingly alarming number of threats due to climate change, more and more institutions and companies are realising the urgency of going green. And this has inspired the financial sector to work towards sustainable finance. 

Sustainable finance (nn.) refers to the process of taking environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into account when making investment decisions in the financial sector, leading to more long-term investments in sustainable economic activities and projects.

In 2020, more than 450 public financial institutions have pledged alignment to the recent Paris Agreement [1] – the international treaty aimed at aligning a global response to climate change [2]. With this effort, the promotion of environmentally-sustainable consumer behaviour has likewise increased in popularity and practice among businesses [3]. But with so many unique strategies and methods targeted towards sustainability, how do you know what actually works?

We set out to find some of the most successful and inspirational stories of firms for sustainable finance. And for you, we’ve put together two of the most effective approaches to creating a lasting, positive impact on the environment as well as consumers. 

Rewarding green practises

With consciousness towards climate change growing continuously across the globe, consumers have also nurtured a preference for companies that embrace purpose and sustainability. In fact, a recent survey shows that 65% of participating consumers want to prioritise purchases and engagements with purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability over non-green alternatives. However, only 26% have confirmed acting upon this preference [4]. 

To narrow this “intention-action gap”, finance companies are turning to gamification and reward systems. And it’s helping everyone achieve their sustainability goals while having fun.

GCash Forest [FinTech]

In collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Biodiversity Finance Initiative Philippines (BIOFIN), GCash Philippines has launched a tree-planting campaign that incentivises app transactions made by users of the digital wallet. Through a gamified feature that rewards users with “green energy points” after each transaction, users are given a chance to exchange their points with an endemic tree planted in their name (published in a certificate) as part of a restoration project of Philippine forestry.

Just a year from its launch, GCash Forest has gained the support of 3.5 million new feature users joining the campaign [5]. In recent news, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, together with GCash, has announced the completion of their 75-hectare reforestation project in Ipo Watershed through the millions of transactions made through GCash Forest [6].

susGain [Social Enterprise]

Singapore-based social enterprise susGain is also accelerating change towards a greener Singapore. Apart from supporting businesses that work towards environmental and social causes, susGain has created a rewards app incentivising eco-friendly purchases and habits. 

With their application (rated a very high average of 4.9 stars both in Google Play and App Store), users collect points for practising eco-friendly habits and earn cashback when supporting environmentally and socially conscious companies through purchases. By doing so, users also automatically support a local charity with each spend – making green habits not only rewarding but also full of purpose. 

Aspiration [Bank]

This certified B Corp is also among the most influential banks committed to truly putting the planet and the people first. From divesting 167,447,175 USD from fossil fuels to helping their clients keep track of their impact through a digital scoring system, Aspiration has created a wealth of opportunities for their patrons to save the Earth while saving up. 

One of their initiatives turning users into green heroes is their banking feature promoting responsible finance management called AIM – short for Aspiration Impact Measurement. This not only monitors your financial behaviours for you in an easily digestible digital format, it also tracks your ‘personal sustainability score’ based on your purchases and whether or not they support your goals of going green.

Another noteworthy effort, Aspiration also plants a tree on behalf of their clients with every eco-friendly purchase and gives 10% cashback on purchases made from companies under the Conscience Coalition (a group of mission-driven companies). With the Aspiration community already planting more trees than there are in New York’s Central Park every day, this success story demonstrates the market’s willingness to choose sustainable options given tangible opportunities.

Supporting green investments 

For longer-term effects, organisations within and supporting the finance sector are also providing the public with lighter payment options and cost reduction benefits for large personal investments that contribute to lower net emissions as well as encourage semi-permanent lifestyle changes. 

“By encouraging and promoting investments towards sustainable efforts, organisations not only compel the market to make more environmentally responsible financial decisions, but they also make sustainability goals more achievable for people from a variety of economic backgrounds.”

Glenn Mindegaard Post, Engagement Director, Monstarlab Denmark

ACT [Government]

The Australian Capital Territory government has recently launched its offering of interest-free loans for electric cars. In an effort to boost uptake and to encourage the public to transition to more sustainable living, 10-year zero-interest loans of up to 15,000 USD for electric car purchases are now offered to ACT residents. This loan is made available under the local government’s sustainable household scheme, along with interest-free loan options covering similar alternative lifestyle purchases (such as solar panels, battery storage, and other clean energy equipment).

To make this program inclusive, all ACT licensed drivers and homeowners in the territory can apply for this loan in addition to other benefits such as a stamp duty exemption for new electric vehicle purchases. Though a more novel approach to encouraging micro clean energy investments, we consider this mandate to have among the most promising premises for influencing lifestyle transformations. 

American Modern [Insurance Group]

American Modern Insurance Group, a premium insurer by the AM Best credit agency, now also offers tiny house insurance as part of its manufactured home policies. And this inclusivity towards sustainable housing is helping turn this ‘alternative’ lifestyle into a widespread movement. In the case of tiny house living, inclusive insurance policies like theirs not only reduce decision-making friction for those aspiring to make the switch to tiny living, it also provides financial security to a largely underserved community.

By offering inclusive and wide-coverage policies as such, American Modern became a household name for speciality insurance. Last September, the company was also recognised by Forbes Magazine as one of America’s Best-In-State Insurance Companies in 2021 [7] – an amazing feat on top of creating a significant impact on the environment.

“Discoveries in behavioural science—from how we as individuals and society respond to positive reinforcement and lifestyle-engrained practices, paired with innovation in technology are creating a natural, efficient, and effective means for us to achieve long-term goals like sustainability. It is in the best interest of all stakeholders—and is already bearing fruit— to maximise this mechanism to build a better future for the planet as well as finance.”

Saad Kamal, Managing Director, Monstarlab Singapore

Your turn

Although it has been amazing to watch the finance sector along with the rest of the world become more proactive in responding to the global climate crisis, it goes without saying that everyone needs to do their part for all our efforts to bear fruit. As author Rober Swan once said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” 

We hope you’ve found some inspiration in the success stories we’ve shared. Now, it’s your time to make the change you want to see in the world. 

Meet the Experts

Saad Kamal
Follow on LinkedIn | saad.kamal@monstar-lab.com

Saad, Managing Director of Monstarlab Singapore,  has more than a decade of experience in driving digital transformation for government and large multinational organizations alike. Delivering world-class and award-winning digital solutions for various industries including banking & insurance, transportation, and smart places.

Learn more about Monstarlab Singapore.

Glenn Mindegaard Post | BFSI Vertical Lead
Follow on LinkedIn | glenn.mindegaard.post@monstar-lab.com

Glenn has a solid economic & financial theoretical foundation strengthened with over a decade of experience working with Denmark and the Nordic Market’s largest banks and financial institutions. He has a deep understanding of the business challenges, needs, and goals and the acumen to translate those into future-proof digital solutions.

Learn more about  Monstarlab Denmark.

Read more about banking, financial services, and insurance here

Endnotes:

[1] IISD, “450 Public Development Banks Pledge to Align with Paris Agreement”,
2020
[2] UNFCCC, “What is the Paris Agreement?”, n.d.
[3] Dong, X., Liu, S., Li, H., Yang, Z., Liang, S., & Deng, N., “Love of nature as a mediator between connectedness to nature and sustainable consumption behavior. Journal of Cleaner Production, 242, 1–12.”, 2020
[4] Harvard Business Review, “The Elusive Green Consumer”, 2019
[5] Manila Republic, “More than 3.5 million Filipinos now support GCash Forest”,
2020
[6] Esquire Mag, “More than 3.5 million Filipinos now support GCash Forest”
, 2020
[7] American Modern, “American Modern Recognized by Forbes as One of America’s Best-In-State Insurance Companies for 2021”, 2020

Author

Andrea Nalupa

Andrea Nalupa

Marketing Manager

Andrea is a Marketing Manager at Monstarlab, specialising in research and content focused on technical and business insights across various sectors.

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