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Asia’s Banking Institutions Are Seeking Greener Solutions to ESG Initiatives

The financial industry’s impact on both the environment and the economy has become a key point of focus for governments and regulatory authorities in Asia.

As a result, banks throughout the region are taking steps to turn their portfolios green and innovate to limit their environmental impact. For instance, this attitude has led to the creation of the Green Finance Industry Taskforce by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Green Finance Action Plan 2.0, which was established by Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC).

In an attempt to better meet ESG requirements whilst also satisfying public opinion, many of the region’s most prominent banks are seeking out banking products and solutions that are proportionately more sustainable. To better examine instances of how these resources are being introduced on a commercial scale brings to the table the likes of Thales; a provider in advanced ESG technology.

It’s reported that Thales has formed partnerships with banks such as DBS, UOB, and Standard Chartered to help provide greener solutions to their customers. Here are some of the ways in which the company is working with their new partners to help them better achieve their ESG goals:

Launching Asia’s First Bio-sourced Card for DBS Bank Taiwan

“Responsible Banking”, “Responsible Business Practices” and ‘Creating Social Impact” are the three main axes of sustainable development for DBS Group. In Taiwan, DBS took this a step further in July 2020, when DBS Bank Taiwan issued Asia’s first bio-sourced credit card, the DBS Eco Card in their aim to promote customer awareness and use of environmentally-friendly banking solutions.

The launch of this card, together with DBS’ other sustainable practices, resulted in DBS Bank Taiwan being awarded the “2020 Taiwan Corporate Sustainability Award” from the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy, in recognition of their commitment to the environment.

Supporting UOB in its goal to make sustainable financial products accessible to all

As one of Asia’s largest banks, UOB is committed to forging a sustainable future for its regional customers and communities. As part of its commitment, UOB’s ESG approach is embedded across its suite of financial solutions and services to make it simpler for customers to adopt a greener lifestyle.

In addition to offering green financing solutions for electric vehicles and eco-friendly homes as well as sustainable investment solutions, the Bank launched this year Singapore’s first bio-sourced credit card for its sustainability-oriented Generation Z customers. The UOB EVOL Card is the Bank’s first card to use Polylactic Acid (PLA) and bio-sourced, corn-based materials which are safe for incineration.

Compared with traditional plastic credit cards which are typically made up of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), the UOB EVOL Card cuts down on plastic use by 82% and reduces UOB’s carbon footprint by 10 grams per card. It’s reported that UOB is also planning to replace the rest of its plastic debit and credit cards with environmentally-friendly options in the near future.

Helping Standard Chartered offset the carbon footprint of their cards

Standard Chartered has taken the bold move to reduce its carbon footprint, starting with the launch of its first CarbonNeutral credit card in Malaysia in November 2020. A year later, and Standard Chartered is preparing to introduce the programme on a global scale, targetting carbon neutrality for its credit and debit card issuance.

Assuming that the average bank card has a carbon footprint of about 150 CO2eq (carbon dioxide equivalent) or approximately five plastic bags, Standard Chartered’s annual issuance of 3 million cards translates to 15 million plastic bags.

As part of their carbon offsets programme, Thales is working with a collection of consultancies, auditors, and non-governmental organisations to help Standard Chartered measure the emissions from its cards and offset their carbon footprint through a variety of carbon mitigation programmes worldwide.

With the CarbonNeutral card, Standard Chartered is contributing to credible and sustainable carbon reduction programmes from the Acre Amazonian Rainforest in Brazil, to the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Indonesia, while reinforcing commitment to its customers in the area of climate change.

Thales’ sustainable banking offer is built around the pillar of various environmentally-friendly cards and the carbon offset programme. In addition to bio-sourced PLA cards, the Thales Reclaimed Ocean Plastic card is made using 70% discarded plastic waste cleared from coastal areas, with one card containing the equivalent of one reclaimed plastic PET bottle.

The Thales Recycled PVC card is made using post-manufacturing plastic waste from different industries, such as the packaging and printing sectors, containing 85% less plastic than first-use PVC. By combining the green offer with Thales’ technology in contactless banking solutions and cybersecurity, Thales offers the financial industry the widest portfolio of products and solutions to help its customers transact safely and deliver on their environmental commitments.

Michael Au, Senior Vice President, Thales Banking and Payment Solutions, Asia
Michael Au, Senior Vice President, Thales Banking and Payment Solutions, Asia

“As the global financial sector looks for ways to bounce back post-pandemic, there is a greater emphasis on building back better and greener,” comments Michael Au, Senior Vice President, Thales Banking and Payment Solutions, Asia.As a pioneer in the industry, we’ve seen that our customers deeply value a holistic and comprehensive portfolio of sustainable banking products to make a positive contribution to society.  In addition, contactless technology for transactions, mobility, and authentication are part of our daily lives. Thales’ broad portfolio of solutions are helping the financial sector, not just in how they operate efficiently but also in how they’re perceived by their customers and the values that their company stands for.” 


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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