Here is a credit card business model bound to fail. Johan Pihl, one of the founders of Doconomy, is launching a new credit card in collaboration with the UN Climate Change Secretariat and Mastercard. It cuts your ability to spend when you’ve hit your “carbon” limit, not your financial one.
To CM, the pricing is wrong. It should allow one to spend beyond their carbon limit and pay penalties on exceeding it straight into the UNIPCC’s coffers. Or perhaps we should ask all UN staffers to use it as a corporate credit card. If it lived up to its promises, most would have their carbon limit triggered when paying for flights to the next COP summit halfway around the globe. That would be a plus!
Pihl said, “we realized that putting a limit that blocks your ability to complete the transaction is radical…but it’s the clearest way to illustrate the severity of the situation we’re in”
It is such a dopey idea. Presumably, if you wish to purchase something that you want and your Doconomy cuts you off, you’ll use another card to complete the transaction. The carbon footprint limit will initially be based off a random calculation tied to the industry aggregate. So it is wildly inaccurate from the get go.
“Imagine if the consumer would pick up our app and actually look at their footprint and that’s the basis for whether they buy something or not,”
If history is a guide we can look to carbon offset schemes have failed. Aircraft carbon offsets may provide some idea as to how hard this card might be to sell.
In its 2017 Annual Report, Qantas boasts,
“We have the world’s largest airline offset program and have now been carbon offsetting for over 10 years. In 2016/17, we reached three million tonnes offset.”
Carbon calculators tend to work on the assumption of 0.158kg CO2/passenger kilometre.
In the last 10 years Qantas has flown around 1 trillion revenue passenger kilometres. While the literature in the annual report denotes one passenger offsets every 53 seconds, the mathematical reality is simple – 2% of miles are carbon offset. So that means that 98% of people couldn’t care less.
Another example was a cryptocurrency named LivingOffset, which tried to conduct an initial coin offering (ICO) 12 months ago.
LivingOffset notes on its web page,
“Let’s say you buy a cup of coffee. You know that producing the coffee has created carbon emissions. Now, you can offset that damage with a contribution that matches the value of the carbon cost, 5c for a cup of coffee…Your 5c contribution is matched with an equal corporate contribution. Turning your 5c offset into 10c. Just think, if everyone having coffee did the same… how quickly we could start to make a real difference…All the contributions go to projects that have proven to have a positive impact on the environment by reducing carbon emissions. And, you can track and verify that your money is going exactly where it is meant to go.”
To the best of CM’s knowledge, the ICO didn’t succeed and is currently priced at $0. That despite its lofty goals of 128% returns. Perhaps using Wikipedia as a source in the prospectus did not help matters.
CM is not sure about his readers, but to have the card reject a payment based on spurious mathematics would undoubtedly frustrate after a while.
Probably says much about MasterCard to sign up for this virtue signalling rubbish given it is lagging behind Visa. If they looked at Gillette, Colgate-Palmolive and other “woke” corporations, they would learn the value of sticking to their lane and allowing consumers to have the freedom to spend how they choose.
MasterCard 1Q 2019 report showed
Transaction Volume: 19.2 billion
Gross Dollar Value: $1.484 trillion
Cards in Circulation: 2.537 billion
Quarterly Revenue: $3.889 billion
Market Cap: $251 billion
Visa 2Q 2019 report revealed
Transaction Volume: 47.4 billion
Gross Dollar Value: $2.197 trillion
Cards in Circulation: 3.358 billion
Quarterly Revenue: $6.972 billion
Market Cap: $355 billion