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Can Fintech really save the world?

Embracing social good for individuals and SMEs.

The Thredd team

January 22, 2024

Social good and fintech

For the latest in our webinar series, we set out to explore the idea of social good with Steve Round from SaaScada and Nida Sattar from Allica Bank, as well as our CMO Betsy Samuel. The session was chaired by Tony Craddock from the Payments Association.

You can watch a replay of the webinar here, or read on for a summary of the key talking points.

What is ESG, and Why is it Important?

A crucial point to define when discussing corporate responsibility and financial institutions is what is ESG? The term itself stands for ‘Environmental, Social, and Governance.’ ESG typically comes up in discussions on how businesses can positively influence the aforementioned three areas.

One of the first topics we addressed in the webinar is what ESG means in the current fintech industry. Steve Round took this opportunity to explain his thoughts on ESG in fintech, suggesting it provides a great framework for businesses to measure the value of their work. ESG helps identify what is “good business” — what products and services benefit consumers and the communities they live in, beyond the defined purpose of the product.

Betsy Samuel, our CMO, agreed, but emphasised the importance of fully weaving ESG into the way a fintech company does business and the choices it makes. Betsy reinforced that, at its core, ESG is all about the choices a business makes: who to do business with, what to invest in, what values to hold, and so on.


Balancing ESG in fintech and Profit.

Although ESG is a popular concept with modern fintech companies, it still has to be balanced with the need to generate revenue and grow the business. Unfortunately, ESG often takes a backseat to profit.

As panel chair Tony Craddock put it, “Normally businesses, particularly those that are listed, are all about shareholder value. We don’t talk about it in public terms anymore, but it’s still pretty rock-solid as the main objective of many businesses.” And so the question was posed: how do we recognise the importance of social good within fintechs?

The general consensus among the panel was that profit and ESG in fintech were not mutually exclusive. For one, Nida Sattar spoke of fintech’s ability to enable positive change through SMEs. Small businesses account for almost a third of the UK’s economic activity, so by providing them with access to a high-quality banking infrastructure, you can enable economic growth without shifting focus away from the bottom line.


How the fintech industry can work together for a better future.

One of the final points of the webinar centred on how fintech businesses can drive positive change. Both Tony Craddock and Steve Round reinforced that having a positive impact in all three aspects of ESG is a monolithic problem for fintech businesses, with Steve Round comparing it to the UN Sustainable Development Goals — although it’s incredibly worthwhile, it’s still a big ask for any single business.

However, Betsy Samuel’s response — and an idea she had reiterated throughout the discussion — was that ESG is not the responsibility of fintech businesses individually, but rather a challenge to be overcome through partnerships. The panel agreed that the future of fintech ESG lies in collaboration, whether that means sharing knowledge, skills, resources, or even intellectual property.

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