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W.UP Guest Blog: The evolution of a shopaholic – Why banks should join forces with a new breed of consumers

As chaotic and overwhelming it’s been, 2020 has also brought some eye-opening lessons. Three months into the pandemic, New York-based communications consultancy Ketchum surveyed thousands of American consumers to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic, and the political and cultural climate surrounding it, has affected their attitudes, values and priorities. The results showed a seismic shift towards conscious consumption.

Almost half of respondents said that their brand preferences have changed since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, with 62% expecting the shift to be permanent. Three-quarters realised how unnecessary some of their pre-pandemic purchases were. Most strikingly, close to 9 in 10 think the coronavirus crisis has made it all the more important that companies behave ethically in terms of diversity, inclusion as well as customer and employee safety.

Consumers pushing for more responsible business behaviours, of course, is nothing new. In The Conference Board’s 2018 Global Consumer Confidence Survey, conducted in collaboration with Nielsen, 81% of global respondents felt strongly that companies should help improve the environment. “This passion for corporate social responsibility is shared across gender lines and generations. Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X are the most supportive, but their older counterparts aren’t far behind,” pointed out Nielsen analysts.

But will the coronavirus pandemic be the final nail in the coffin of shareholder-first corporate governance practices? And if yes, how can banks do their part in driving change?

This is what one of our clients in particular has asked themselves a lot over the years.

And they’re far from being the only ones. By late 2019, banks with over 40 million customers have teamed up with Stockholm-based fintech startup Doconomy to help consumers track their carbon footprint. They’ve done so using Åland Index Solutions, a joint venture between Doconomy and Bank of Åland, which makes it possible for banks, payment providers and financial institutions to show customers transaction-based impact calculations. Being a founding partner of Åland Index Solution has been the latest addition to Ålandsbanken 100-plus-year track record of building strong customer relationships and offering personalised service.

“With Åland Index Solutions we can engage all financial players in the fight against climate change. This collaboration is a milestone in creating a global standard for measuring the impact of consumption and totally changing the way we consume through connecting spending patterns with climate impact,” explained Docotomy co-founder and head of consumer business Nathalie Green in a 2019 press release. “Through this collaboration, which facilitates global climate action at individual level, we can have a better understanding of our impact and find ways to contribute to the solutions, day by day,” added UN Climate Change Secretariat representative Niclas Svenningsen, welcoming the initiative.

In other words, the best way banks can contribute to building a more sustainable world is through data. This is why we’ve set out to develop a carbon footprint tracker widget for our banking personalisation platform in collaboration with one of our long-term clients. That’s right! In a few months’ time, we plan to roll out a brand new feature that measures and compares banking customers’ carbon footprint based on what and where they consume. Plus, advise them on how to make more sustainable choices one purchase at a time. Watch this space for updates on the project – or reach out to me if you’re interested in how W.UP can help banks with their sustainability efforts.

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