Cashless, plastic-less

Plastic money may be convenient but it isn’t climate-smart.
Can cashless be more sustainable?


Sustainability is becoming the standard not only for investment and financial products, but also for means of payment. Using cards from either recycled or recyclable, bio-sourced or degradable materials is another step toward reducing the carbon footprint literally generated by our wallets. We can go a step ahead and stop using physical cards at all. More and more banks (but not only banks) are offering digital wallets that can replace physical cards and cash. From early 2021, our private clients in Switzerland are able to register a digital version of their credit card with UBS TWINT, Mobile Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay. While digital wallets are convenient, they can be cumbersome for people who aren’t yet comfortable using this technology.

Major card issuers are now offering more eco-friendly cards made from recyclable or upcycled plastic. But does it need to be plastic at all? For private clients in Switzerland, UBS launched the Optimus Foundation Credit Card Eco. It stands out because it’s made of environmentally friendly material: instead of plastic, it’s composed of the plastic substitute PLA, and is more than 80 percent biodegradable. PLA is obtained from animal feed corn. With this card we help the environment and limit the amount of plastic used for card production. UBS also donates 0.75 percent of the annual credit card spending to its Optimus Foundation. The commitment to the cause speaks volumes – last year, we saw a 110 percent increase in Optimus Charity Credit Cards.

The use of payment cards isn’t declining. In fact, with the outbreak of coronavirus last year, we are using credit and debit cards more often than before the pandemic. While some consumers may simply feel uncomfortable using cash, the primary reason for this uptrend is the use of cards in e-commerce.


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