A small bank close to the Arctic is making every credit card transaction take on climate change, and invites all other banks to do the same.

15.06.2016

The Finnish bank Ålandsbanken launches a completely new type of biologically degradable credit card that not only lets users see the average carbon footprint of their consumption, it also gives them the option to make up for the footprint of their purchases.

– The sea is never far away when you are based in the Åland islands, and we can’t avoid seeing the effects of pollution. In 2015 we launched the Baltic Sea Project, founded on our commitment to enable smart ideas for the environment. But we also wanted to give our customers the opportunity to contribute to the environment through their daily choices. Only if we all get involved will we be able to save the Baltic Sea, says Peter Wiklöf, CEO of Ålandsbanken.

– With the Baltic Sea Card, users can track how their consumption affects the environment and then have the opportunity to make up for their carbon footprint, and hopefully make different choices over the longer term, says Peter Wiklöf.

– Working with WWF Finland enables us to offer our clients alternative insights for a more sustainable lifestyle as well as direct donations to different environmental projects, says Anne-Maria Salonius, Director Business Area Finland at Ålandsbanken.

– WWF Finland has worked for a long time to protect the Baltic Sea. It’s becoming more and more important to promote sustainable choices in consumption and energy solutions. By cooperating with Ålandsbanken we can increase both the efficiency and impact of our efforts, says Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General at WWF Finland.

Users of the Baltic Sea Card will get an environmental report in their mobile app or Internet bank account. When paying the credit card bill they will also be presented with an opportunity to make up for their estimated carbon footprint. By making it transparent how we as individual consumers affect the environment, Ålandsbanken’s hope is that consumers will be empowered to make better-informed decisions in their day-to-day lives.

The environmental report is based on the unique Aland Index, developed by Ålandsbanken. The Aland Index uses every retailer’s specific merchant category code from MasterCard, which is cross-referenced with financial market data on the carbon footprint of these industries and reviewed by KPMG. This makes it possible to calculate the carbon footprint of every individual transaction, thereby enabling carbon offsetting and changes in behaviour.

– Innovation is at the heart of MasterCard, which fits in nicely with the Baltic Sea Credit Card and the Aland Index, which is something completely new. When the bank – with its knowhow of risk analysis and market data, combined with our transaction data and KPMG’s expertise – can help consumers make better-informed decisions, we want to contribute. Almost everything has a price, but our environment is priceless!, says Sasha Krstic, Head of MasterCard Nordic and Baltic Region.

Ålandsbanken will begin replacing their existing credit cards in Finland and Åland with the new Baltic Sea Card. During this year the cards will also be automatically linked to the Aland Index. 

– Data is often viewed as complicated and lifeless, where as in this case it is the opposite. With information to enable informed decisions, the bank has created the foundation for a movement that is at the same time easy and engaging. It was an obvious decision for us to review and audit the Aland Index, as it is a good example of how the financial industry can contribute to both funding and environmental understanding, says Daniel Dellham, Head of Sustainability Consulting at KPMG.

The Baltic Sea Card is made by Gemalto of renewable raw materials and can be easily recycled. The card is non-petroleum based, biodegradable and non-toxic if incinerated.