Sparebank 1 SMN collaborates with Ducky
Would you make greener choices if you could see your own climate footprint?
Sparebank 1 SMN thought so – and joined forces with Ducky to prove it. The result is an online banking feature which is a little out of the ordinary.
It all started in 2018, while the two companies were collaborating on Trondheim municipality’s ‘Zero Emission Citizen’ project. They two companies realised that there should be a way for the private sector to help reduce society’s overall consumption based climate footprint. It was a challenge they felt they could answer together.
“Sustainability is high on our agenda, and we knew we wanted to do something, we were just not quite sure what”, says Bente Helen Birkestøl, product manager digital bank in SpareBank 1 SMN.
Down from the fence
One possibility that presented itself was the chance to use the extensive data each bank stores about its customers. It seemed that as long as privacy and security was guaranteed, people might want to opt in to learn how their consumption habits affect the global climate picture.
“We wanted to find out, so we went out to Trondheim Square, fittingly on Black Friday, and asked random passers-by. We showed people how their personal climate footprint could be visualized, and asked for their feedback. People liked it. Many of them said that if they became more aware of these numbers, they would come down from the fence and actually do something,” says Birkestøl.
“We realized that we were on to something. But we were still not quite sure how to bring it to life. Or what the product should be. Should we use a brochure, or perhaps an event?”
From consumption to emission figures
In the end Ducky and the bank came up with something even more ingenious. Why not just include the numbers directly in the online banking app?
“As a bank, we have a total overview of what people spend money on. And we have an online banking app where this is already divided into different categories. But we are a bank, not climate experts, and we didn’t want to mess things up. So it was important that we worked with a company which had climate expertise.”
The solution was for Ducky to custom tailor an integrated solution for Sparebank 1 SMN. It took a mere two months to complete the integration, once the bank decided how they wanted it all to work.
“Ducky linked its climate figures to the categories we already had in place in our online bank. Through their API, we convert food, fuel and hairdressing trips to actual emission figures.”
Enjoying some 'AHA' moments
The new feature, which the bank’s customers have to opt-in to use, shows them how their personal consumption affects the climate. Suddenly they see that it’s not just fossil cars and coal power plants that are responsible for emissions, but also each and every one of us – every time we pull out a credit card.
“The feedback is that people think this is cool. We hear a lot about a-ha moments, where the users suddenly see how consumption and footprints are connected. The fact that going to the hairdresser creates emissions, for example, is something that surprises people,” says Birkestøl.
The fact that by saving money you also save the climate is not something that is obvious to everyone. This new view of consumption is something SpareBank 1 SMN is happy to highlight.
“We didn’t think that we would be able to trigger such a change in awareness. But now we’re fully engaged in it, there has been a huge amount of interest in this project.”
- This is golden
Since then, both electricity companies and foreign banks have contacted SpareBank 1 SMN to learn more about how it works. Many are looking for similar solutions for their own customers.
“We basically went into this without thinking commercially. We focused on climate, sustainability and Trøndelag innovation. But now we see a large commercial value here. So for example we’re now trying to add in tips and advice which point to other green products we offer.”
She calls it building a green relationship with customers. In the long run the goal is to involve additional third parties to enrich the relationship.
“It’s about offering alternatives in, for example, transport, housing or groceries. Maybe we can offer something other than a car loan? When we help with sustainable advice, this green relationship becomes a catalyst that makes the customer also think in a more climate-friendly way. And that is a direction we all really want,” she says.
“Most of our customers who use the solution also agree to share the data anonymously for the greater public good. This unique data set creates a massive chance for researchers, planners and municipalities to work together to tackle climate goals. This whole collaboration is simply golden!”