According to a 2018 survey commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, 95% of Swedes think their country will be affected by climate change in the future. The same survey also highlighted that 81 percent of the population believes Sweden can do something to reduce the impact of climate change.
Considering the country’s celebrated penchant for innovation and startups, it’s easy to understand why so many green businesses and climate initiatives are taking off in the land of IKEA and ABBA.
One of the latest additions to the Swedish green startup scene is Doconomy, a fintech company founded in 2018 by Johan Pihl and Mathias Wikström with the aim of making banking more eco-friendly and consumers more aware of the environmental consequences of their spending and lifestyle.
Their first two products are “DO”, a mobile banking service that allows users to track their C02 emissions and compensate for their impact with a series of carbon offset projects and “Black,” a credit card branded as the “world’s first with a carbon limit.” DO will be released in Sweden this summer with other markets in Europe to follow suit, while DO Black will be released in Sweden later this fall with the European market to follow in the first quarter of 2020.
To know more about Doconomy’s approach to climate action, I hopped on a call with Mathias Wikström and Johan Pihl, the company’s founders.
Kinder World: Let’s start with Doconomy’s philosophy. You put a big emphasis on consumer behavior and lifestyle choices. At the same time, many environmental activists and academics say that the only effective way to tackle climate change is for governmental bodies to implement new reforms and policies.
Wikström: And I agree with them. Obviously, big corporations and politicians should lead the way and at a personal level, there’s only so much you can do.
But we need to send a signal. When you’re electing a politician you vote every four years or so, when you’re choosing a brand to consume you’re doing that on a daily basis. And that is another kind of election which also has a great impact on the climate.
In other words, what we’re doing is accelerating effective climate action by creating services that help consumers to become aware of their impact. We think that awareness is the key to establishing a new type of relationship between consumers and companies. Consumers can create a demand that will actually force brands to respond to this newly created awareness.
From the beginning, our idea was to help consumers form a sort of climate consciousness and we figured that an easy way to do so was by creating tools that they could use daily, like a mobile banking service and a credit card.
In a way, we’re trying to add a new dimension to take into consideration when we’re buying something aside from “quality” and “price,” and that is the environmental impact of the purchases. I think that there are many big brands that are eager to move in this direction, just think of what Patagonia is doing.
Kinder World: Do you imagine that 10, 20 years from now every mobile banking service will allow consumers to track and measure their C02 emissions and to compensate for their impact
Wikström: Yes, we really hope that in the near future our services will become “vanilla.” Unfortunately, at the moment there is not so much competition in our field.
But I think that it should be part of banks’ standard offer to provide clients with the ability to easily know their environmental impact and measure it, and eventually compensate for it.
Kinder World: Swedes are apparently really receptive when it comes to climate initiatives but how to raise climate awareness in countries that appear to be less interested in the problem.
Johan Pihl: I think global brands have the opportunity to communicate the need for climate action across boundaries, maybe also thanks to the introduction of “climate labels” or similar solutions.
Kinder World: And, final question, how do you calculate the carbon footprint of the purchases
Pihl: We’re working with the Åland Index that is developed by the Bank of Åland. They’ve taken the ESG data from Thompson Reuters and Sustainalytics which represents reporting on CO2 emissions from over 4.000 companies worldwide, while the social cost of carbon is based on the research of the WorldBank’s Mitigation of Climate Change Working Group.