Triodos launches UK’s ‘most sustainable’ personal current account

Sustainable banking group Triodos has today (26 April) ramped up efforts to disrupt the "dysfunctional" banking sector through the launch of a new personal current account that embraces responsible finance.

The account will challenge the practices of many high-street banks, which make an estimated £1.2bn from customers falling into unauthorised accounts. While arranged overdrafts of up to £2,000 are available, Triodos will not allow unarranged overdrafts, removing the risk of high penalty fees.

“Our new personal current account brings an inspiring new option to the UK current account market, which we believe is dysfunctional and is obviously dominated by a small number of large banks,” Triodos UK’s managing director Bevis Watt said.

“We want people to really think about what their bank is doing with their money. Money doesn’t have to be invested in the arms trade, fossil fuels and tobacco – it can be used to do good things that help build the society we want to live in.”

‘Positive impact’

Triodos lends more than £700m to sustainable businesses and schemes ranging from renewable energy projects to charities and social housing providers. Last year saw Triodos increase its new lending in the UK by 43.5% to nearly £90m.

Described as the “most sustainable personal current account ever brought to the UK market”, the new current account will begin with a phased rollout from June this year. Customers will be charged £3 a month for the service, which will provide transparency by publishing details of every loan it makes online.

An eco-friendly chip and PIN debit card made from polylactic acid (PLA), derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugar cane, will act as an environmentally responsible alternative to traditional plastic such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

“In designing this new current account, from the plastic used to the fees and charges structure, we have consistently adhered to Triodos’ principles of transparency, sustainability and fairness,” Triodos head of retail banking Huw Davies said.

“We believe this new product will inspire the many people who make conscious sustainable choices in their daily lives to move their banking to a bank which shares their values, and which is working to have a real, positive, impact on society.”

New approaches

The new account reflects Triodos’ pledge to introduce a “radical new approach” to the banking system; placing environmental and social wellbeing at the heart of financial transactions.

Pressure is now mounting on the rest of the finance sector to follow suit through boosted investment in green businesses, technologies and innovations. The Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney recently claimed that close to $7trn will need to be spent on new green infrastructure across the globe in order to cut carbon emissions over the next 20 years.

Despite more than 70% of banks introducing environmental and carbon footprint stress, many are failing to align business and investment strategies in keeping with the 2C pathway scenario established through the Paris Agreement. UK’s major high street banks have been criticised for sluggish attempts to shift investments from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Amid the slow progress made by banks and investors lies a cause for optimism; the number of the asset owners acting on the risk of climate change has risen by almost a fifth in the last year, according to new research, with 60% of the world’s biggest investors taking steps to protect their portfolios.

George Ogleby

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