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Bank of Ireland Outlines Sustainable Finance Criteria and Invests €34Million in Customer Service

It’s been a busy week for the Bank of Ireland, which recently disclosed its criteria for classifying sustainable finance, as part of an effort to track and report on its progress and identify potential new sustainability-focused products. The commercial bank has also announced plans to invest upwards of €34million (~£29million) into its customer service systems.

In its first Sustainable Finance Framework, the Bank of Ireland set out detailed criteria under which lending can qualify as green finance, social finance or sustainability-linked finance. The areas covered include residential and commercial buildings, sustainable food and agriculture, energy efficiency, renewable energy, pollution prevention and control, sustainable water management, clean transportation, affordable housing, and access to healthcare.

The Bank has already launched a number of sustainable finance offerings such as its Enviroflex loan, designed to encourage sustainable farming practices, and a green capex loan for corporate customers. In a first for the Irish market, the Bank’s new ‘EcoSaver Mortgage’ has changed its pricing of fixed-rate mortgages to align with Building Energy Ratings (BER), offering discounted fixed rates for all properties rated from A to G.

The Bank of Ireland also published a detailed breakdown of its sustainable finance portfolio which grew to €11.1billion at the end of 2023, led by an increase in green mortgage lending. In 2023, the Bank increased its sustainable financing targets to ~€15billion by 2025 and ~€30billion by 2030.

Eamonn Hughes, chief sustainability and investor relations officer at Bank of Ireland commented: “It’s important that we give our stakeholders – whether they are investors, customers or colleagues – the greatest possible transparency on our approach to sustainable financing.

“This comprehensive framework and the composition of our sustainable finance portfolio are publicly available for everyone to see and they serve as the foundation for Bank of Ireland to achieve our ambitious sustainability targets in the coming years.”

Bolstering customer service offerings

The Bank of Ireland has also revealed plans for major additional investment in customer services; setting aside over €34million for the transformation of its telephony and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

The investment comes not long after the Bank announced an investment of over €60million in a range of branch improvements, including the Bank’s largest single investment in ATMs in the last decade, in January this year.

Its latest investment in technology looks to support faster resolution of customer calls, enhanced self-service options (change account address, order duplicate statements, request a new card), enable more transactions to take place 24/7 via phone and improve customer security.

The investment will provide 2,800 colleagues in branches and contact centres with quick ‘single view of customer’ data for faster call resolutions and will support the use of voice biometrics to improve customer authentication for better fraud protection and reduce call waiting times.

Susan Russell, CEO of the Bank of Ireland Retail Ireland, explained: “We receive more than 11,000 calls on average each day and when customers call us they want speed, expertise and security. This investment equips colleagues with the latest technology to provide better and faster resolution of calls, and colleagues will now have a ‘single view’ of the customer at the touch of a button providing them with instant access to all their information without having to talk to another part of the bank. This investment will make things faster and better for customers and for colleagues, it’s a win-win.”

This latest announcement brings the total spending by the Bank of Ireland on customer service improvements to just shy of €150million by the end of 2025.

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