Meeting the net-zero challenge: how can banks fulfil CSR expectations?
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Meeting the net-zero challenge: how can banks fulfil CSR expectations?

Meeting the net-zero challenge: how can banks fulfil CSR expectations? 

Edward van Dooren

Strategic Advisor Worldline Financial Services

Meeting the net-zero challenge: how can banks fulfil CSR expectations?

On the second day of EBAday, a session took place named Meeting the net-zero challenge: how can banks fulfil CSR expectations?Working for a company that is genuinely committed to embedding trust and sustainability at the heart of its activities and personally being convinced that limiting our footprint is essential. I followed this particular discussion with great interest.

During this session, Kalliopi Chioti, Chief Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Officer at Temenos, Gökhan Nazenin, Vice President Europe Banking Solutions New Business at FIS, and John Willis, Director of Research at Planet Tracker, discussed the crucial transitions that banks must undergo in supporting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expectations. How should banks manage the complex yet critical shift from a shareholder to stakeholder capitalism model?    

Trusted banking partners on the road to net-zero
Moderated by Madhvi Mavadiya, Head of Content at Finextra, the discussion examined how financial institutions increasingly consider their impact on those who interact with the organisation, including customers, suppliers, employees, and local communities. Failure to both create and protect long-term value for stakeholders will result in, at least, reputational damage and, at worst, a failed net-zero transition in Europe. 

The European Union set a goal to be climate-neutral by 2050, meaning we have just under thirty years to transform our economy to one that reaches net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. According to recent studies performed by the World Economic Forum, at least one-fifth of the world's largest public companies have committed to net-zero targets. It is expected that more and more companies will follow their lead, although Gökhan stated that he was not sure whether 100% net-zero was realistic.

Carbon neutrality in the payment industry
While electronic payments’ ecological impact is still more minor than traditional forms of payments such as cash, action and measurement are still needed to understand the issue and minimise the footprint of electronic payments. Many companies are setting goals to do their part in this. Worldline, for instance, became the first company to contribute to carbon neutrality in the payment industry in 2018, introduced eco-designed payment terminals and is committed to sustainability through its ambitious approach supported by its TRUST 2025 transformation program.

To make a significant impact, a holistic approach is needed. John made the statement that CSR is a framework, whereas ESG is the outcome. Both Kalliopi and Gökhan added that employees are a key asset in the transition, as they want to be part of a company with a purpose. The entire end-to-end payment process needs a review to identify where environmental and social improvements can and should be made. According to the panellists, the most significant change in CSR is that it moved from philanthropy towards increasingly becoming a key component of corporate strategies. And rightly so. Today seeds were planted for increased awareness and engagement with CSR and ESG approaches.

TRUST2025: a bolder & more ambitious CSR approach
For many organisations, the focus of action goes beyond reducing their emissions. They are looking for trusted allies to face one of the most significant challenges of our time. That’s why businesses need long-term banking partners that have also committed themselves to net-zero. They are looking for financial partners that are willing to act as enablers for investments to lower the costs of low-carbon technologies.

At Worldline, we have committed ourselves to a CSR approach reflecting compliance, transparency, and a high level of engagement within its ecosystem since 2014, resulting in the TRUST program. Building on the success of its TRUST 2020 program, which has enabled the company to achieve encouraging results on all its CSR issues, Worldline launched its TRUST 2025 program last year. With this new edition, we aim to confirm and fasten CSR progress. We also enter into partnerships to support banks and their customers in their transformation towards a greener economy, such as our partnership with fintech ecolytiq

Empowering global change
Banks and other financial institutions need to embed CSR in their general strategy to reach the net-zero target and take moral responsibility for their ecological impact. The panellists made a valid point in stating that a bank’s social credentials might become as important as financial credentials. It is essential to be ambitious and set actionable KPIs that support CSR transition for their business. However, transparent communication and behaviour are crucial.

As a sector, we need to design and operate digital payments and transactional solutions that enable sustainable economic growth while reinforcing trust and security. Worldline supports banks and merchants in their strategic evolution because we feel the urgency to act ourselves and facilitate other companies in doing the same. In the end, we are – quite literally – on this CSR journey and this planet together.

Learn more about Worldline’s TRUST 2025 program here.