Around the Banking Industry: Aspiration

Jackie Shroyer by on May 23, 2017

Do you ever wonder about the societal or environmental cost of purchasing a cup of coffee, a slice of pizza or even a new pair of shoes? Financial services startup, Aspiration, founded in 2013 now has an app for just that. While some  financial institutions have started to provide clients with a monthly breakdown of spending based on categories such as entertainment, food and transportation, Aspiration’s new feature, Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) provides a sustainability score based on what users purchase. It essentially empowers customers to vote with their dollars to foster social and environmental change, to “shop with a conscience.”

Every time a client swipes the debit card associated with their Aspiration account to make a payment toward a company, they receive a personalized AIM score calculated using the firm’s proprietary algorithm examining more than 75,000 data points. The score, which is on a scale from 1 to 100, is based on a Planet Score and a People Score. The People Score considers data such as the ratio of employee to CEO pay, workforce diversity, access to healthcare and the percentage of women who are managers in the company. The Planet Score considers data such as the firm’s greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy use and energy efficiency. Over time, clients can track their score and compare their stats with other users. Additionally, if a client buys something at a big business that has not yet been rated, the firm encourages clients to use their Aspiration app to Tweet at a company asking it to publicly report sustainability data.

Sample AIM Score

Overall, the idea of consumers voting with their dollars to champion social and environmental causes is growing steadily, especially in the brokerage space. Aspiration stands out as one of the first banks in the industry to adopt this approach, which could become a model for larger industry players to follow.