Concern Over the Environment Is Shifting Consumer Payment Card Preference To More Eco-Focused Cards

October 14, 2020

CPI Card Group commissioned an independent research firm to conduct an online survey of credit and debit cardholders in February 2020.  The 2303 participants answered questions about their environmental concerns, and how those concerns would impact their purchasing behavior. Their answers can help financial institutions align their card and other programs to their customers’ sustainability concerns.

Consumers were asked how they feel about environmental issues and specifically about sustainable payment cards as a solution. Millennials lead in technology adoption and social platform usage.  Therefore, you might think that younger generations such as Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen-Z (born between 1997 and 2010) would express the greatest concern for environmental issues. You might also think they are the most likely to switch to a sustainable card, and therefore be the best targets for payment cards that help protect the environment. However, interest was relatively equal across the age groups.  CPI’s Consumer Insights Study discovered thought-provoking consumer attitudes and trends that might make you think differently about cardholder interests and which groups to target with sustainable payment products.

Would Someone Switch Cards or Issuers for a Product Like Second Wave®?

Consumer Insight StatsCredit and debit cardholders exhibited a strong willingness to switch to a more sustainable option. Eighty-five percent of cardholders indicated they would switch to a more sustainable card with their current issuer if the features and benefits remained the same and 53% would actually switch issuers for a sustainable card with the same features and benefits.

The views across the age groups were evenly shared for those who are “somewhat” or “very” likely to make the switch to a card made with Recovered Ocean Plastic if it were offered by the same issuer that offered their card today. Bar graph figure 1

The largest generational shift in perspective occurred when cardholders were asked whether they would switch to a card made with Recovered Ocean Plastic if offered by another institution.  Younger generations showed greater willingness to switch.   However, while older generations were less willing to change still nearly 40% in the 53-64 age group said they would.

The Reason Behind the Shift: People of All Ages Are Concerned About the Environment

Surprisingly, environmental concern doesn’t appear to be exclusive to younger generations.  Overall, 94% of cardholders expressed concern about protecting the environment and 63% were “very concerned”.  While Gen-Z did express the greatest propensity to be “very concerned” at 71%, all other generational cohorts were high at 60%+.

Second Wave® is Appealing

In November 2018, prior to launching CPI’s Second Wave® payment cards, which feature a core made with recovered ocean-bound plastic, a similar survey found that cardholders liked the idea of cards made with “recovered ocean plastic”.  In fact, the survey indicated 84% of cardholders considered them “appealing” and 57% expressed that the more eco-friendly payment cards would be “very appealing”.

In the recent survey, the number of cardholders who found the concept of a Second Wave® card “appealing” rose from 57% to 67%. Additionally, enthusiasm not only remained, but grew 10 percentage points, indicated by those who found the cards to be “very appealing”.

Bar graph figure 2
Respondents who found ocean plastic cards to be appealing

Among the age groups, results were relatively steady across the generations who found Second Wave® payment cards either “appealing” or “very appealing”.

The data is enticing and portrays consumer demand for sustainable solutions as a trend not reserved for any specific generation, with consumers genuinely concerned about protecting the environment and a willingness to purchase products that support this goal.  For financial institutions looking to align with the sustainability interests of their accountholders, consider adding a more sustainable payment card option to your portfolio and don’t be surprised if it’s not just Millennials and Gen-Z that sign on.  For more information about Second Wave® payment cards, click here.

CPI also recently added the Earthwise payment card to its portfolio, for more information click on the link here.

Jack Jania

Written by:

Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

Standing Out Through Sustainability in Cards

September 2, 2020

According to new research commissioned by CPI Card Group and produced by Aite Group, 80% of card issuers surveyed believe that cardholders are more environmentally conscious today than they were just five years ago. This belief is supported by sales of earth-friendly products having grown over five times faster than traditional products. Sustainability-marketed products accounted for 16.6 percent of market share across thirty-six consumer packaged good product categories in 2019, up from 14.3 percent in 2013.

Surprisingly, the desire for more eco-focused products transcends the generational divide. Millennials are not the only generation passionate about environmental causes. A Nielsen study found that 72% of baby boomers also feel that companies should implement programs to improve the environment.

Financial Institutions Are Implementing or Expanding Sustainability Strategies

Sustainability strategies are becoming necessary in the payments industry.  Leading financial institutions are investing in sustainability strategies, employing dedicated executives to guide and monitor the process, and are promoting environmental sustainability on their websites as they explore ways to incorporate new practices into their operations and product offerings.   As financial institutions look to implement or expand sustainability programs to meet consumer demand, innovative solutions are emerging in the market.  Issuers can now consider payment cards made with more sustainable materials such as upcycled plastic, either recovered ocean-bound plastic or post-industrial plastic.  More environmentally friendly options are also found in card carriers and retail packaging with recycled papers.

Card and sustainability executives are working more closely together to expand or implement sustainability strategies. According to Aite’s research, card executives surveyed stated they have begun to communicate with those in charge of their institution’s sustainability team.

Card executives can further collaborate with colleagues in sustainability, helping them understand the institution’s financial products and operations to identify potential opportunities. For instance, through an understanding of the materials used in card production and packaging, the sustainability group may be able to reduce the amount of paper materials used for collateral, inserts and carriers, joined with an eco-friendlier card product that reduces first use plastic.

Sustainable Card Options are Available Now

The market is wide open in the sustainable space, and with growing demand, the introduction of viable, eco-focused payment cards, not only drives cardholders (and issuers) awareness of doing something good for the planet, it may also offer issuers a compelling differentiator. This is the perfect opportunity to convey your company’s environmental objectives with eye-catching design and imagery, while promoting messaging that resonates with today’s cardholders.

As the demand for eco-focused products rises, and the pressure to create sustainability strategies increases, financial institutions may be faced with decisions on what environmentally focused card options align with their sustainability initiatives. Communicating with sustainability executives can provide insight on the best options.  Recovered ocean-bound plastic and high upcycled content cards are excellent options to reduce first-use plastic in the payment card industry. Depending on design, issuers can reach up to 98% upcycled plastic content in cards made with post-industrial plastic.

To learn more about CPI’s upcycled plastic card options, click here.

Jack Jania

Written by:

Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

Transforming Ocean Waste into Payment Plastic

November 5, 2019

In response to rising consumer demand, card manufacturers and issuers are actively working to develop and provide more environmentally-conscious solutions to address the growing problem of plastic waste. The challenge for card manufacturers is in sourcing materials that are not only durable, but able to handle the complex security and technology requirements of today’s evolving payment standards, including both EMV® and contactless payment functionality.

One of the most exciting eco-friendlier alternatives to traditional first-use plastic is the use of recovered ocean-bound plastic, which addresses a serious environmental challenge by reducing the amount of plastic waste in ocean-bound areas, waterways and shorelines, while also meeting the demanding requirements of today’s diverse payment systems.

Recovered ocean-bound plastic comes in many conditions, shapes and forms, not all of which are suitable for use in card manufacturing. Plastic waste must first be converted back into a commercially viable form, such as flakes. Once converted, the recovered plastic can be used in a wide array of consumer and commercial products in place of first-use plastic.

Recovered ocean-bound plastics are already being used in several consumer applications, like shoes, eyeglass frames, buttons, and zipper pulls and this versatile material presents great opportunities in the payment card arena. Roughly six billion payment cards are manufactured each year, the vast majority of which use virgin PVC (polyvinyl chloride) for the card body construction. Incorporating recovered ocean-bound plastic into payment card construction can help divert a meaningful level of plastic waste from entering our oceans.

To meet this need, CPI has introduced Second Wave®, payment cards with cores made with recovered ocean-bound plastic.  Second Wave® offers the opportunity to make a difference in the effort to reduce the proliferation of first-use plastic, divert plastic waste from entering in the oceans and better serve a growing market of environmentally-conscious consumers.

CPI estimates that for every one million Second Wave® payment cards produced, over one ton of plastic will be diverted from entering the world’s oceans, waterways and shorelines.  Click here to learn more about Second Wave®.

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.


Helping Our Oceans

October 24, 2019

The use of sustainable materials in payment cards is generating a lot of industry buzz. With roughly six billion plastic cards manufactured each year, the use of more eco-friendly materials like recovered ocean-bound plastic in card construction can significantly help address the issue of plastic waste entering our oceans.

According to a CPI Card Group Consumer Insights Study, conducted by an independent research firm, 83 percent of cardholders find the idea of a card made with recovered ocean plastic appealing1, and 58 percent would switch to a different issuer if they were to offer a recovered ocean plastic card with the same features and benefits.

But what does “recovered” actually mean?

The term “recovered” refers to waste materials collected from the environment and repurposed or “upcycled” for use in a different form, such as a used plastic milk jug that is converted into material for constructing playground equipment, glass melted into beads, or aluminum melted to create jewelry.

This contrasts with the term “recycled,” which refers to plastic or other discarded material that is reused in its same original form (e.g., reusable plastic or glass milk containers that are disinfected and relabeled).

According to CPI, recovered ocean-bound plastic is defined as plastic waste collected from land areas where the plastic would otherwise be highly likely to enter the ocean. It is typically recovered within 50 kilometers of a seashore, or near streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. CPI considers recovered ocean-bound plastic to be a subset of recovered ocean plastic, which also includes plastic debris that is collected directly from the ocean.

Scientists estimate between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic refuse enters the oceans annually, much of it in the form of single-use plastic.

In fact, if nothing changes, the ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastic than fish (by weight).  Ocean plastics threaten the delicate coral reef ecosystem, increasing the likelihood of devastating coral disease by a factor of 20. This is critical, as coral reefs feature an astounding array of biodiversity. Although coral reefs occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor, they shelter more than a quarter of all marine life.

To help combat the ocean plastic waste challenge, CPI has introduced Second Wave® payment cards with a core made with recovered ocean-bound plastic.  These EMVCo compliant and dual interface capable payment cards can address issuers’ sustainability commitments, and align with consumers’ desire for more eco-friendly payment options.

If your financial institution is ready to consider a recovered ocean-bound plastic payment card program or other environmentally-conscious payment initiatives, click here to learn more about Second Wave®.

1 CPI Card Group. “Consumer Insights Study,” conducted by an independent research firm, Schor Insights and Strategy, among 529 debit and credit card users between 18 and 65 years of age, November 1-2, 2018

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.