CommBank focuses on the true cost-of-living crisis
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CommBank focuses on the true cost-of-living crisis

How many trees have you felled today?


Would you be happy for your bank to judge how green your spending is? They are tracking your activity anyway, but Australia’s CommBank has upped the ante by partnering with fintech startup Cogo to calculate its retail customers’ individual carbon footprints. Each customer sees their monthly emissions, which are then compared to the national average using striking visualized data such as a certain number of trees being cut down.

“Customers will be able to see a breakdown of their carbon emissions data grouped into everyday spending categories,” the bank states.

The surge in contactless payments post-Covid, and the repudiation of germ-carrying cash and coins, while more widespread in western economies has taken place globally. It makes it a lot easier for banks to collect spending data from their clients.

Following a successful pilot run launched in October 2021, CommBank is betting that the climate consciousness of individuals will make its online banking platform more popular and could even commercialize its carbon offsetting credit scheme.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a tech startup has come to market with a plan for data-driven guilt-tripping

It wouldn’t be the first time that a tech startup has come to market with a plan for data-driven guilt-tripping. If you really want it to, your phone can be ringing, dinging and buzzing with reminders to drink more water, spend less on goods, and climb those stairs. One more notification explaining how many butterflies your daily iced latte indirectly kills can’t hurt.

As regulators clamp down on accurate emissions reporting, banks are eager to track their Scope 3 emissions, both upstream and downstream. The global conversation on climate change has not yet prompted significant behavioural changes in society. Since most individuals are still unwilling to sacrifice comfort for nature’s sake, consumer-level data on emissions might be the next step towards a low-carbon future.

But CommBank's new venture will also spur difficult conversations about how much financial control banks should have over their consumers and whether individual carbon allowances could eventually be legally enforced.

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