Fresh off the back of ekko underlining its focus on sustainability with a new product line up, we spoke to the firm’s CEO and co-founder, on why the steps are so significant. 

PaymentExpert: Hey Oli, thanks for speaking to us – firstly are you able to tell us more about your history in the payments space and also about ekko? 

Oli Cook: ekko is on a mission to empower millions of customers and businesses around the world to become more sustainable. We do that through offering a customisable solution that can be plugged into any transaction in the world – we call it embedded sustainability. Essentially, any employer, bank, card issuer or payment provider in the world can integrate ekko and empower every transaction with positive impact tailored to their target market. 

The positive impact can be felt in many ways, including carbon tracking, reducing and offsetting, using payments to fund rhino conservation or save plastic from entering our oceans. We see ourselves as an enabler for other businesses and employers to embark on their sustainability journeys.

Within ekko, my role is CEO and co-founder. I’ve been in financial services for years running propositions and commercial functions for big banks, challenger banks, start up fintechs and insurtechs. All of this experience is now helping me to build ekko.

PE: What role can fintech play in the bid for sustainability within payments? 

OC: I’m truly passionate about the opportunity we have within the fintech space to drive positive change and more sustainable outcomes. The data we have access to, the continual customer interaction with our industry, and the factual nature of what we see within a transaction means we are in the right place with all the right data to help consumers and businesses to reach their own sustainability goals. 

I’m ambitious for the future. In the same way fintech led the charge for every bank and card provider to improve their digital capabilities and customer experience, I hope over the next few years we’ll see the same in sustainability. I’d really like to see sustainability in payments become the norm.

PE: How does ekko place its focus on sustainability and ensuring each payment has a positive impact? 

OC: We’re here to empower transactions in a customisable way. If you plug in our API, or take our employee benefit scheme, you can choose the projects and the data you want to deploy to your customers, and through a single integration you can offer them to your end users – all automated through a few lines of code. 

An example of a positive impact payment would be to have real-time carbon footprint tracking of the purchase, followed by behavioural science-led notifications to help reduce impact, saving plastic from entering our oceans (and much more). We want to empower people on their first steps towards habitual changes.

PE: Why is it so important for each sector to ensure they are doing their part when it comes to sustainability? 

OC: Not just sectors, individuals too. This is a global problem that impacts each of us. For me it’s about helping everyone get a little bit better and seeing the compound effect of a number of small changes over-time. 

No matter who you are, what your company is doing or your role in that company, everyone can start to make a difference in their own way. That becomes infectious.

PE: What role have collaborations played in the growth of ekko, and how do you maximise each partnership? 

OC: ekko is a partner for employers, banks, card issuers and payment providers. For us to reach our goals of empowering millions of consumers and businesses around the world, we need to partner with brands and businesses that already have scale. In doing this, we will accelerate our impact.

We’ve already partnered with Champions League clubs and household names, and by maximising these partnerships, we are able to maximise the number of end users who see their transactions empowered. 

PE: At a time of economic strain, how pivotal can fintech be, especially when it comes to financial inclusion? 

OC: For me, fintech has an important role to play in a plethora of areas – financial inclusion, sustainability, money education, and many more. Despite the economic strain, I don’t see this changing, and it’s more about remaining focused on capital efficiency and commercially viable businesses, which means we can continue to fulfil these important missions.