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Executive Perspectives

EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Banking with impact

Do you know the impact of your transactions on the climate? In the first product of its kind, we caught up with the collaborators of the Åland Index to learn more about how consumers can learn what the environmental impacts of their purchases are and how best to offset them.

Thomson Reuters Sustainability: What is the Åland Index?

Åland Index: The Åland Index is the world’s first bank index that computes the environmental impact (Co2) of every individual credit card transaction. The result is presented to the client monthly by the Bank of Åland’s online or mobile platform. With the automated report comes the opportunity to compensate for the impact locally, globally or by lifestyle in cooperation with WWF Finland. The index is connected to a unique credit card produced bio-sourced material, supporting the cause turning a tool for consumption into an instrument for nature.

TRS: Could you tell us about the process, how is the data used and translated to each consumer’s carbon footprint? 

Åland Index: The application is quantifying consumers’ carbon footprint and the social cost of carbon by using Environmental Social Governance (ESG) data. First, revenues and Co2 data was analyzed and matched by KPMG with the top 50 merchant category codes (MCC) from MasterCard. Then we could calculate the average carbon footprint per category for every Euro spent. The Åland Index matches the footprint with the individual spending and computes the cost by using the price of carbon from the World Bank. With leading ESG data, merchant category codes and a fixed price, the Åland Index is scalable to fit any other bank.


  • Converts daily behaviour (transactions) to impact (Co2)
  • Measure impact in weight (kg)
  • Converts weight to cost (€/$)
  • Suggest offset (donations or by lifestyle) corresponding with individual results


TRS: How does this benefit the bank and what would you say to peers who ask about the return on investment?

Åland Index: The Bank of Åland is situated in the center of the Baltic Sea, one of the most polluted seas in the world. As this coincides with the largest amount of credit card transactions, the bank wanted to engage all its clients as agents for change. With the launch of the Baltic Sea Project and the Åland Index the bank aimed to position itself as a responsible player but also to make the most of their historic efforts for the environment, working over 20 years to fund great ideas caring for the planet. With the launch of a platform for funding, a vehicle for understanding was created.

The ambition was to establish a direct recurring dialogue as well as data driven individual insights. Short term, as we are still only with in the first year of the launch, results have by far surpassed our wildest expectations. Within months, the Baltic Sea Project and Åland Index have been invited multiple times to the UN on Climate Change, generated 380.000 € in funding for environmental projects, reached more than 350 million people through earned media and had been made mandatory as a case study at the Stockholm School of Economics. For the future the potential seems even greater. According to recent surveys by among others WWF there are many key indicators on market needs and acceptance:

  • 82 % want to live a sustainable lifestyle
  • 60 % want to see a “climate labeling” on financial products
  • 80 % want to contribute personally to reach max 1.5 degree Celsius target
  • 65 % would change bank if there was a more climate sustainable offering
  • 69 % believes that it is important to consume in a responsible way

Source: “WWFs survey on climate in Sweden 2016”

“It is a game changer in many layers and a brilliant example of social innovation.” Anders Richtnér, Professor Stockholm School of Economics

 “12 innovations that can save the world” Svd, Sweden

“The Aland Index is an innovative, highly-scalable idea with a global potential. It’s great to see a small Scandinavian bank show true environmental leadership and invite the big guys to follow. A big idea like this shouldn’t go unnoticed and deserves the limelight on the Goodvertising Top 10 for 2016!” Thomas Kolster, Goodvertising.

“There is a clear need for tangible environmental projects. We developed the Åland Index and the Baltic Sea Card in order to give our customers concrete tools for climate-smart consumer choices. We are proud to share our know-how, and the exchange of ideas also provides us with fuel for further development efforts.” says Anne-Maria Salonius, Director of the Bank of Åland’s Finnish Mainland Business Area.

TRS: What are some of the biggest challenges?

Åland Index: To keep up with the results and make the most to enable insights substantiated by data for people outside of the bank. Today a wide group of partners have collaborated to create this unique function. Now it is time to also enable the same engagement for other banks. That is why the Bank of Åland is offering the idea as an open innovation to any other bank in the world that also believes that sustainable change is created together.

TRS: What’s next for the Åland Index and how would you encourage other banks who want to grow their business while at the same time helping the environment? 

Åland Index: The Åland Index has just started its journey as a catalyst for change, but with a scalable model the function is readily available to any other bank and their clients who want to know the true cost of their consumption. The interest is fantastic and there are already high level discussions on making the Åland Index a national standard. To participate as part of this alliance of the willing please get in touch for an in depth presentation.

Partners: MasterCard, RBK Communication, KPMG, Gemalto, WWF Finland, Thomson Reuters and H+K Strategies amongst others

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