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How to make fintech apps eco-sustainable

The trend for ecological sustainability is spreading from industry to industry.

Fintech has not become an exception, with the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria becoming an increasingly important factor for fintech businesses in raising investments. 

However, there is a “but” here. While many “green” fintech startups like Aspiration or Sugi appear on the market, their infrastructure can stay environmentally harmful. 

From the technical perspective, there are ways to make the fintech infrastructure more ecologically friendly. And I want to share some of them from my experience. 

So let’s start.

Why should I care? 

We all care about the environment. We sort the garbage, use long-term bags, and try to consume less. Isn’t it enough? 

It is not. And I will name three reasons for that: 

Businesses Can Do More  

Firstly, while everyone personally does their best to help the environment, businesses still have a responsibility of their own. Corporations overuse environmental resources, produce waste, and contribute to global warming the most. And while digital companies do not do that much harm, they are responsible for doing their best for the environment. 

Digital businesses have their challenges to overcome in the context of sustainability. For example, every megabit of data generates an emission into the atmosphere. So reducing the number of files, technologies, and libraries in development is a very effective way to reduce the carbon footprint. 

Customers Call For Sustainability  

Secondly,  you are not building your business in a vacuum. You are doing it for someone to use (customers). Millennials and Gen-Zs are the lion’s part of the customers in the fintech sector these days. And for these folks, eco-sustainability is the fundamental value. 

Investors Are Expecting More   

Investors have always cared about where they put their money. But now they also care about the environment. 

As we are stepping into 2023, Q1 welcomes us with the startup funding plummeting and the drop in fintech evaluations. This is a shocking development since COVID-19, when almost every bank developed its banking app to fit the trends. Nearly one in five (18%) banks developed contactless payment methods to provide digital services. Till now, the number of banking apps has become overwhelming, and the new entrants need to work harder to succeed. 

Against the backdrop of the looming recession and cost of living crisis, investors go beyond their expectations from fintech startups. Now more is needed than just being innovative and providing a human-oriented service. Fintech services are now expected to help their customers to tackle their finances during the living-of-cost crisis, tracking their spending habits and being sustainable. 

So eco-sustainability is not a choice but a necessity these days. 

Sustainble green building. Eco-friendly building. Sustainable glass office building with tree for reducing carbon dioxide. Office with green environment. Corporate building reduce CO2. Safety glass.

But my fintech app helps users reduce their eco-footprints; isn’t it enough?   

Well, this is an endeavor worth the praise. However, a common problem with fintech startups is that while following environmental standards, their infrastructure is still harmful to nature. Fintech startups lag in terms of the Environmental part of the ESG policy compared to their counterparts in e-commerce, SaaS, and manufacturing. For stats, 57% of fintech startups got one out of four stars in environmental metrics. The other 36% got two stars, while the remaining 7% got three. 

Massive data vaults and the development process itself are resource-consuming. So as not to be blamed for greenwashing, you should go deep and make your technical background as eco-friendly as possible. 

Related:

Five ways to make your fintech business more eco-friendly 

So let’s see what you can do to make your business eco-sustainable.

Emit Eco Cards 

Plastic is bad. We all know that. So if your fintech startups claim to be eco, making a recyclable payment card is a must. Otherwise, your eco-sustainability policy will be no more than just “greenwashing.” 

As an alternative to plastic, you can use: 

  • Recyclable cards; 
  • Digital Cards; 
  • NFC business cards. 

For example, the eco-card of Onlyone, launched in 2020, is made of 85% recycled PVC. Besides that, the company allows users to support eco-responsibility projects. 

Another example is Helios. The startup provides an opportunity to receive a Visa card for natural wood with the opportunity to support environmental projects as well. 

Also, Aspiration, the eco-fintech startup that I’ve been lucky to work with, produces eco-friendly debit cards partially made of upcycled ocean-bound plastic. 

See how your CI works 

Continuous integration (CI) is a practice that is used widely across different engineering teams for the automation of many development processes like building, testing, deployment, etc. The primary purpose of CI is the optimization of processes, for example: 

  • identifying bugs quicker; 
  • improving software quality; 
  • Reducing the time for updates’ releases. 

Another thing to know about CI: CI machines are resource-consuming. They use CPU, Ram, and network transfer.

As developers, we can reduce the resources that the CI machine consumes. In particular, you can start by monitoring your pipelines speed:

  • Check every step you have, starting from code checkout, dependencies installation finishing with building, testing, and deployment
  • Analyze the most time-consuming steps and try to find out what makes it take so long;
  • Try making CI parallel some tasks (tests, for example); 
  • Also, streamline caching of some rarely changing but resourceful parts, for example, dependency manager, RubyGems; 
  • It’s also helpful to check alternatives to the services you’re using. For example, when we started to deploy builds for QA via Firebase instead of TestFlight on one of our projects – it saved us a ton of time;
  • Remember that even 10 saved seconds – are much more in the end since new pipelines are created and running daily.

Reduce unused code 

Writing code is a daily routine of any Developer. Removing code is also a part of the routine. The code that needs to be removed is usually called “dead,” meaning that the result of the execution of this code isn’t used anywhere across the codebase. The dead code is generally found after refactoring (code restructuring), changes in the requirements, or even after a minor tweak. 

Removing the dead code is another contribution to the environment you can make on the development side. 

So here are 3 tips to keep in mind when removing the excessive code: 

  • Always check the full chain of code when you’re removing some parts. It often happens that you can remove even more than expected; 
  • Use such tools as Periphery (a tool helping to identify unused code in Swift projects) regularly. It is useful to run your code through a tool like this from time to time, especially at the end of refactoring or significant code changes. 
  • Not only question yourself, “Why do we need this function?” during the code session. But also check it. It does not take a lot of effort but leads to saved lines of code, which will not take compile time anymore. 

Pick your third-parties wisely

There are a lot of aspects to which you pay attention while choosing a third-party library. As a developer, in the first place, you will check if it can fix your problem and if it’s flexible enough. 

But there is one more thing to check, which is no less critical, especially in terms of sustainability – the performance of the library and how big it will make your app in the long run.

For example, at a project, we once used a library that could solve our problem. It was designed for even more significant issues, which made it a stretch for us. It was like using a sword to cut a piece of bread for us. So we had to refuse it. 

We’ve researched and found a library that gave the same results, saving us around 100 megabits of the final app size! Just imagine – every user is downloading 100 megabits less. It’s a big win for our environment. 

By the way, it also can make much more sense to develop your solution instead of a third party, but that can be an extensive discussion for yet another article. 

So be sure to pay attention that you’re not cutting a piece of bread with a sword instead of a knife.

Make sure your third parties are sustainable 

You can develop all the features from scratch when building a digital product. Such features, such as an admin panel or a chat, can be integrated into the app by third parties. In fintech app development, third-party API integrations play a significant role. It can take not one but a few integrations to make a fintech app.  

How to find out if the third party is eco-sustainable? Learn in the next block! 

Use technology to monitor companies 

There is an increasing number of analytical tools that help to screen investments. 

AI&ML-driven instruments can gather and analyze all the public data on the web, read its tone of voice, and identify whether ESG-related discourse is taking place in the conversation of a particular company. This instrument is called Sentiment Analysis. 

Thus, using AI/ML-driven analytical tools, you can identify if a company has a positive or negative impact on the SDGs goals. Besides AI, there are also such instruments as: 

Among such technologies, there are blockchain tokens and advanced analytics.  

Big data analytics can also be quite effective in evaluating companies’ environmental footprint and assets. For example, you can use big data to check the traceability of the supply chain or the carbon emissions. 

Summary 

Eco-sustainability is now not just a nice-to-have feature for your business. This is a necessity dictated by regulators, customers, investors, and the global agenda. Digital companies also bear responsibility regarding eco-sustainability and should take particular measures to keep up. 

  • Artem Mysik

    Artem Mysik is an Engineering manager and iOS Developer at Uptech Product Studio. With five years of experience as an iOS developer, Artem has worked on fintech, real estate, food delivery projects and loves the excitement of finding the most efficient solutions for any kind of a problem.

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