Random Thoughts

Random Thought: Environmentally-Friendly Credit Cards


I was brainstorming the other day about some business ideas and came up with a new form of a credit card, which focuses on lowering its environmental impact on all fronts. I don’t really have any intention of pursuing this idea; however, I like to stay in the habit of building-out my initial thoughts for a new product.

A few environmentally-friendly cards already exist, but none that I have found so far have as many features as they could. Many of the so-called ‘green’ credit cards today merely contribute to charities, which is indeed a great thing, but it seems like they are missing something. For example, the card itself could be biodegradable or just a more recyclable material (while this may not provide much in terms of reduced waste, this will be an excellent advertising angle for the product, and the production cost could be a cheaper to produce than a plastic card. Also, how cool would it be if you threw in tiny seeds into the card, which would then sprout a plant if the card ever became pollution? Since many tend to cut up their card in many pieces, each one of those pieces could turn into a plant or tree. While these proposed changes are just mainly just selling points (the seed one is probably a tad ridiculous), they lead up to this new card’s bread and butter.

The main feature of this device would be the automatic option of choosing paperless receipts instead of paper; I am pretty sure this is definitely achievable, but sometimes users wouldn’t want to always receive a digital receipt. For example, if you need to bring your boss back the receipt for a company-funded dinner, the paperless route might not be the best. Another potential problem worth mentioning is some retailers only accept paper receipts for refunds, due to the simplicity of altering a paperless receipt for one’s gain. Additionally, requiring customers to provide a paper receipt (which are easily lost or damaged) and not a digital receipt (much harder to misplace and damage), lessens the number of possible returns or exchanges.

This auto-paperless receipt function would work with either new wearable tech or a chip in the card, which would interact with a business’ POS (Point of Sale) systems if they allowed our new eco-friendly software to be installed in them. I like the idea of a provided service with the eco-friendly card that senses (GPS) and communicates (simple Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection) to any devices near the physical location of the card owner, ensuring that every device near you that has the option to print only paperless receipts, is automatically disabling paper receipts and enabling paperless methods. Security concerns would have to be carefully considered, but I think I could make it work.

Finally, as mentioned before, current ‘green’ credit cards donate to an eco-friendly charity of their choice. While I love the idea, I would prefer to give points to the credit card holder for spending money, and those points would then be donated to an eco-friendly charity of their choice; these eco-friendly rewards would be entirely separate from rewards like cash back, merely adding a new bonus for spending money. The reason I would like the customer to choose where to donate (from an extensive list of verified charities), is that many charities do not disclose how much of the funds go to the people/goal they are raising money for. Recently, companies like Goodwill have come under fire for their CEO’s absurd salaries.

Making this eco-friendly credit card wouldn’t be too hard, with only the possible cost increase of creating this new card and its numerous potential features. Also, the card would definitely need to be smart, or at least able to pick up and send Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals; this option might make my suggestion of a biodegradable credit card not possible, but I figured that whole ‘biodegradable’ card thing was pretty silly anyway.

With all of these features on one credit card, you would have an entirely eco-friendly method of paying for items; as we all know how long a CVS receipt can be, I say this type of change is highly necessary.

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