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ComplyLaunch Customer Spotlight: ekko

Payments

Creating a global framework for Sustainable Development Goals-compatible finance has been a growing concern for climate-conscious banks since The Paris Agreement and COP26. But with fossil fuel financing routinely making headlines and a goal of net-zero by mid-century on the horizons of most major global economies, the concern among policymakers is becoming increasingly acute. 

ekko is a new challenger fintech that responds to this concern by “turning the tide on climate change” through built-in eco-initiatives that allow users to track their carbon footprints. We caught up with co-founder and Head of Operations Manish Vara to learn more.

Introducing ekko 

“The idea behind ekko came about in early 2020 when my three co-founders and I were talking about climate change in the pub,” says Vara. “We were all from a financial services background and knew a lot about retail banking etc., […] and we asked ourselves how we could combine something that everyone does on a day-to-day basis (banking), with the climate crisis and create a solution – not the solution, but a solution. 

“As we discussed this we realized that we all faced the same problems – we all wanted to do our bit for the environment but felt constrained by time, money, and/or knowledge to do it well. […] And when we expanded our conversation to others, we found that a lot of people revert to thinking it’s a problem for the government or big businesses to fix – which is definitely true but we wanted to provide a solution for the individual.”

With an ekko account, every five transactions pays for one ocean-bound plastic bottle to be collected, and every fifty transactions pays for a tree to be planted in partnership with the Mastercard priceless planet coalition

“To make the user’s impact as tangible as possible,” continues Vara, “with ekko they’ll be able to see how their personal transactional behavior affects the environment and what their carbon footprint looks like in light of the tree planting and bottle collecting done in their name.” 

Mitigating mindless consumption

In addition to its banking services, ekko also has its own marketplace. “We’re trying to bring together a curated list of sustainable retailers to help our customers make more informed, conscious decisions about how and where they spend their money.”

“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to be more carbon conscious. Hopefully, they’ll be educated along the way which will help them make better choices and continually progress towards making a long-term positive impact.”

Increased investor control

“One of the things I love most about building ekko is the fact that it’s a greenfield project,” shares Vara. “When we started, the whole concept was totally new and we didn’t have any legacy things to hold us back or bring us down. […] All the decisions we make are totally environmentally conscious and we have the freedom and flexibility to make sure this is maintained for maximum positive impact.

“But what’s also great about ekko is the amount I have learned about my own transactional behavior. Because I have increased visibility of the impact my spending has, I have a much clearer idea of what makes up my carbon footprint and how to make much smarter decisions when it comes to where I spend my money.”

From idea to reality

“My proudest achievement has to be my first transaction on my ekko card. I mean, don’t get wrong, my first transaction wasn’t a big one – I bought a bar of chocolate from Tesco! […] But the whole journey built up to that moment and it was incredible.” 

Positive engagement

“When you educate people the wrong way about climate change, everything becomes very negative. Everything is doom and gloom and, from a branding perspective, you have an overload of dark colors and negative imagery. We want to be a positive voice to encourage others to be positive about their impact and the potential they have to individually make a difference. 

“This is why our brand colors are so vibrant! The card’s design is different and it catches people’s attention. […] We don’t want to be like everyone else. We don’t want to be all doom and gloom. We don’t want to be another bank. We want to be a positive change.”

What’s next for ekko?

“Right now we are onboarding customers across the UK. We’re actively listening to our customers as we want to make sure we are delivering what they want first, in terms of prioritizing some of the things we want to work on, and getting it completely right for them.”

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Originally published June 17, 2022, updated August 2, 2022

Disclaimer: This is for general information only. The information presented does not constitute legal advice. ComplyAdvantage accepts no responsibility for any information contained herein and disclaims and excludes any liability in respect of the contents or for action taken based on this information.

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