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The Green Digital Finance Alliance is harnessing people power through technologies such as mobile money to speed up the low-carbon transition
One growing area of green finance is fintech. Last year saw the launch of the Green Digital Finance Alliance, which is ostensibly a partnership between Ant Financial, China’s leading online and mobile financial services provider, and UN Environment. Its aim is to align fintech-powered global financial systems with sustainable development, while making green finance an integral part of the daily lives of people and businesses.
One of the alliance’s first initiatives is an app that “gamifies” carbon footprint tracking, awarding points depending on how environmentally friendly a purchase is, such as buying a train ticket rather than fuel for a car. The points allow users to grow virtual trees which are then converted into a real tree, planted in the desert in Inner Mongolia.
The app also taps into the belief that it’s not just top-down action that will help to stop climate change, but bottom-up approaches too, that help individuals to make simple changes to their lives.
Green fintech is also being used to help investors access asset management companies selling green and sustainable investment products, and insurance policies that give customers money back for the days they don’t use their cars. Trine, a Swedish tech start-up, enables savers in downtown Stockholm to profitably fund distributed solar energy systems in rural sub-Saharan Africa, while in developing countries, initiatives such as the innovative mobile payment system M-PESA are helping people to access clean energy.
Although only small, ideas such as SolarCoin could also lead the way. The digital currency’s value is tied to solar energy produced and consumed within a community. It is intended to shift the cost of electricity, reducing the payback time of a solar installation and acting as an incentive to produce more solar electricity.
Blockchain’s ability to give money a “history”, revealing where it has been and what it has done, has a natural fit with green finance, and the importance of knowing what exactly investments are funding. The Internet of Things and artificial intelligence also have huge roles to play in making fintech interactive, attractive and relevant to new markets.
This is one of a series of articles on green finance. See also: