Triodos has opened registrations for its first ever UK personal current account. The account – said by the bank to be the most sustainable personal current account ever brought to the UK market – began with a phased rollout from June this year.
Triodos, which has been operating in the UK for over 22 years, only lends money to organisations and projects that are making a positive difference to society, be it socially, culturally or environmentally. The bank lends over £700m to organisations and projects ranging from charities, community schemes and social housing providers, to organic farmers, homelessness programmes and renewable energy projects; and publishes details of every loan it makes via www.knowwhereyourmoneygoes.co.uk/ for complete transparency.
The bank is launching the account in response to growing consumer demand for banking products that demonstrate a positive impact on society. As Triodos’ UK managing director Bevis Watts explains: “Our new personal current account brings an inspiring new option to the UK current account market, which we believe is dysfunctional and is obviously dominated by a small number of large banks.
“We want people to really think about what their bank is doing with their money. Money doesn’t have to be invested in the arms trade, fossil fuels and tobacco – it can be used to do good things that help build the society we want to live in.
“For many years now, consumers have had the opportunity to align their values with the food they choose to buy, the transport they take, and the energy they consume. Now they have that choice with their daily finances, using their money as an irresistible force for good that works towards positive social, cultural, and environmental change.”
The findings from a consumer survey commissioned by Triodos in February this year echo this sentiment, with six out of ten respondents (61%) wanting to know where their bank lends their money, but three quarters (75%) of people being unaware of where it actually ends up.
As well as being significantly different in how the bank uses money and its transparency, Triodos’ new personal current account will also challenge the practices of many high-street banks which, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), make approximately £1.2 billion from customers stumbling – however briefly – into unauthorised overdrafts. Customers will be charged £3 per month for the current account service and, whilst arranged overdrafts are available, the bank will not allow unarranged overdrafts, thus removing the risk of high penalty fees (unpaid items will incur a basic charge of £5 – with a maximum monthly charge of £50 – to reflect the administrative costs to the bank).
Huw Davies, head of retail banking at Triodos Bank, says: “There is no such thing as ‘free’ banking because someone else always pays. ‘Free’ accounts are usually subsidised with high penalty charges and hidden fees, so the most vulnerable customers, or those making a rare miscalculation with the household finances, end up paying an exorbitant price. This isn’t fair so we are leading by example with a fresh approach.”
In support of its commitment to the environment and drive for sustainability, customers will receive an eco-friendly chip and PIN debit card made from PLA, a ‘natural plastic’ of renewable resources (often corn or similar plants) that is an environmentally responsible alternative to traditional plastic such as PVC. This highly innovative new type of card material has been put through a rigorous testing process to confirm its suitability for use in a regularly handled debit card, with the result that the card itself is now believed to have the strongest environmental credentials of any debit card in the UK market.
“In designing this new current account, from the plastic used to the fees and charges structure, we have consistently adhered to Triodos’ principles of transparency, sustainability and fairness. Our current account provides the essential banking services expected by customers, but much more as well. We believe this new product will inspire the many people who make conscious sustainable choices in their daily lives to move their banking to a bank which shares their values, and which is working to have a real, positive, impact on society,” adds Huw.
Triodos is one of the world’s leading sustainable banks and already operates successful current accounts in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany. Following a highly successful 2016, which saw Triodos increase its net new lending in the UK by 43.5 per cent to nearly £90 million, UK managing director Bevis Watts is optimistic that the market is ready to embrace change: “Money is the most powerful tool for change. UK consumers are realising just how much influence they can exert over the banking system and our wider society simply by channeling their finances into things that benefit them, their communities, and society in the long term.”
Personal finance expert and Moneycomms editor Andrew Hagger, who has reviewed the new current account on behalf of Triodos Bank, concludes: “Hats off to Triodos Bank for being up front about the real cost of banking and for challenging the broken ‘free banking model’. Not all consumers choose a bank account based on ‘what’s in it for them’; some will happily pay a small monthly cost safe in the knowledge that their bank uses their money for socially responsible and ethical purposes.”
Key Features of the Triodos Personal Current Account
- Eco-friendly Triodos MasterCard debit card;
- Internet banking, mobile banking and text alerts to help customers manage their money;
- Charge of £3 per month for the current account service;
- Cash withdrawals of up to £300 from any ATMs across the globe accepting MasterCard and LINK globally;
- Arranged overdraft limit of upto £2000 by request, subject to status and with an overdraft rate of 18% EAR;
- No unarranged overdrafts or expensive fees and charges (unpaid items will incur a basic charge of £5 to reflect the administrative costs to the bank, and with a maximum monthly charge of £50);
- Joining the Triodos community, including access to special events and a network of inspiring organisations and people;
- Customers can instantly see details of all the ethical and sustainable business and projects Triodos is involved with across the UK via www.knowwhereyourmoneygoes.co.uk
About Triodos Bank
Triodos Bank is a global pioneer in sustainable banking using the power of finance to invest in projects that are good for people and the planet. Triodos uses its €13.5 billion (2016) in assets to create social, environmental and cultural value in a transparent and sustainable way.
With UK operations based in Bristol, Triodos Bank has branches in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany and an agency in France. Globally, Triodos Bank has microfinance projects in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and is a founding member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a worldwide network of 36 banks seeking to transform finance into a vehicle of positive influence.