payments and ecological impact

Growing a Business in an Eco-Friendly Direction

Nowadays, any company can reap the financial benefits of taking their business in an eco-friendly direction. Rewards range from tax breaks to increased popularity. Consumers are in fact increasingly demanding natural products and social responsibility through sustainability and green practices. 

Consumers go for eco-friendly brands

Nearly 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada think it is important that a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly, according to a new study by IBM and the National Retail Federation, while the Nielsen global online survey identified 66% of its worldwide study respondents with commitment to eco-friendly products, services and businesses. No wonder companies are looking to adapt to the sustainable trend and are actively searching for options to change their products to become more environmentally-friendly and create a positive impact on the society.

No Cash, No Trash? 

Companies in the financial sector are also raising the issue of their impact on the environment. The most obvious eco-friendly move in the industry is cutting down on cash and adopting digital payments, even though it seems that cash is in fact the greener option when it comes to transactions.

“The environment and the economy are really both two sides of the same coin. If we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves.”

Wangari Maathai

For instance, euro banknotes are printed on paper made of sustainable cotton, while Canada is using polymer notes, whose production releases less carbon emissions and they last longer.

Worn-out American dollars are recycled for a variety of purposes, including insulation for houses and compost piles that become fertilizers, and at the same time the Bank of England is turning shredded notes into plant pots and storage boxes.

Things Are Not What They Seem

On the other hand, cashless payments, however quick, efficient and effortless they may be, are not very good for the environment. Cashless payment solutions use data centers and communication networks to operate, and these industries are particularly polluting due to the energy they consume to function. The production of plastic bank cards is not very environmentally-friendly either, not to mention the disposed out-of-circulation cards. And as for the cryptocurrency, its mining leaves a huge carbon footprint. Bitcoin’s carbon footprint alone rivals the environmental impact of Las Vegas or a small country like Sri Lanka, a recent study found.

However, many businesses in the financial sector are starting to make serious commitments to act on reducing carbon emissions that warm the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. For instance, Bank of America has deployed more than $126 billion in financing to low-carbon and sustainable business activities since 2007, writes the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

At the same time, Goldman Sachs has been investing in companies that specialize in upcycling clothing and shoes, which helps eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from production lines and shipping. 

American Express announced the launch of its first-ever credit card made primarily from plastic recovered from the ocean. AmEx spokeswoman  Charlotte Fuller explained that while American Express would continue issuing payment cards made of titanium and stainless steel since both materials are recyclable, the card company was also actively looking into reducing their reliance on plastics.

But American Express is not the only card giant making steps towards sustainability. Mastercard is collaborating with Gemalto, IDEMIA and Giesecke & Devrient on a project that would create a "greener" payment instrument.

Doconomy’s Solution For Pollution

One of the companies striving to reduce carbon emissions is Swedish fintech Doconomy. The company has launched a credit card that tracks the carbon dioxide emissions of purchases and caps the climate impact of users' spending. 

The card itself is made of bio-sourced material and is printed with Air Ink – an ink made from recycled air pollution particles, namely the unburned carbon soot that comes out of car exhaust pipes, chimneys and generators. The card owners will be financially rewarded for being more environmentally-friendly and will also be invited to compensate for their environmental impact by donating to or participating in projects that meet the criteria of United Nations certified green projects.

Scandinavian Companies To The Rescue

Customers of Nordea's digital banking services can also follow their CO2 impact through Nordea Mobile and Nordea Wallet that enable them to track their payment card spending. 

The information is based on the Åland Index developed by the Bank of Åland in Finland. The index calculates an approximate impact from goods and services bought with a payment card.

Finnish payment services provider Enfuce Financial Services Oy has developed an app called My Carbon Action that calculates customers’ carbon footprint. It combines data from credit cards and banks with purchase data from retailers to provide real-time calculations of how a given product affects the climate.

Mastercard’s Master Plan

Even the payments giant Mastercard is taking action. In January of this year, it announced the launch of the Priceless Planet Coalition, a platform to unite corporate sustainability efforts and make meaningful investments to preserve the environment. Mastercard is pledging to plant 100 million trees over five years, in partnership with companies such as Citibank, Saks Fifth Avenue, and American Airlines. The participating companies will continue to implement their own sustainability strategies, as well as collaborate across the Coalition for joint campaigns. One early initiative will see the Coalition encourage consumers to use mass transportation in partner cities around the world, including London, New York, Stockholm, Helsinki, Ankara, Barcelona and others.

According to Mastercard, in March 2020 Mastercard and bunq announced the expansion of their partnership to intensify the growth of bunq’s card offerings in Europe. bunq Green Card is a metal Mastercard, which builds a greener planet by planting a tree for every 100 Euros spent. Mastercard is leveraging its international network, in order to help the bunq Green Card expand into 30 European countries.


70,000 trees were planted in three months, since the card was issued in November, 2019.

Source: bunq

Mercury Processing Services International Going Green

Since the very beginning, Mercury Processing Services International has strived to remain an environmentally aware company, with an aim to reduce any damaging effects on the environment from business’ processes. 

Since 2011, our employees have collected and recycled paper, while also using recycled paper for printing. Everyone is encouraged to separate different types of waste, including batteries, while the company has received the ZelEn certificate, proving all our energy is coming from renewable sources, and put LED lights in all of the renovated offices in Zagreb.

The latest initiative is the replacement of single-use plastic cups with a limited number of branded paper cups featuring a message: "Be a part of the solution, not the pollution".

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