TreeCard, a London-based FinTech startup, announced today that they have opened the waiting list for their brand new wooden debit card, which uses the money from its fees to plant trees.
Scheduled to launch early 2021, the new card will send 80% of the profits earned from merchant transaction fees to reforestation efforts by Ecosia, a search engine that uses its ad revenue to plant trees.
In the first two hours of the announcement, TreeCard recorded some 10 thousand signups for their new wooden debit card; a considerable effort, since users have to commit to giving all their details to set up the account, apart from a security code and physical photo ID.
A novel, wooden card
Everything about the debit card is designed with the environment in mind. While only a small amount of plastic is used for the contactless chip—made from recycled plastic bottles—the rest of the card is made from FSC certified British cherry wood.
In an exclusive interview with TechRound, TreeCard CEO and Founder Jamie Cox said: “The key concern is sustainability. You don’t want to use materials that aren’t sustainable, that can’t be recycled easily, and are ultimately bad for the environment. So wood is not one of those, wood is great, but you just need to make sure that you are sustainably harvesting it.”
While it may seem counterintuitive to cut down trees for a product intended to raise money to plant them, Jamie explains that the numbers show otherwise, with around 300,000 cards being made from a single tree. “We won’t really need to take much more wood than a couple of trees—at max—for all of our users. So it’s relatively low impact, and we think that the number of trees each user will plant really does outweigh the taking of those couple of trees.”
Jamie assures that the card is durable and that it has passed Mastercard’s approval: “It’s completely regulated and ready for use. I know they go through loads of detailed testing. They’ve put petrol on it, and that kind of thing, so it’s been through the wars. I’m confident it will be lasting.”
TreeCard estimates that for every £45 (US $60) spent using one of the debit cards, one tree is planted and cared for by Ecosia, for a total of three years. Jamie explains that since the transaction fee is paid by the bank and the merchant, it is completely free for the cardholder.
“You can see it almost as a sort of eco-tax being levied on businesses. So when you pay for something on Amazon with your TreeCard, you’re sort of forcing them to give a little bit more to eco causes. So that’s the way you can see it. It’s like a free way to give.”
Preparations for the future
TreeCard is preparing to launch in the US, the UK, Germany and France. While they haven’t decided on the exact roll-out plan for each region yet, they have decided to start with the US, where the interchange fee is better and each user generates 5 or 6 times more revenue.
For more information, visit: https://www.treecard.org/