St. Petersburg-based Climate First Bank continues capitalizing on its early success and expanding its climate and social justice financial technology offerings.
Last week, officials with Climate First Bancorp, the bank’s holding company, announced the purchase of the Virginia-based startup Ecountabl. The platform compiles environmental, social and governance performance data on over 10,000 companies to help customers discern what brands align with their personal values.
According to an accompanying release, Climate First’s leadership believes the acquisition will accelerate growth and bolster the capabilities of the corporation’s digital banking fintech platform – OneEthos. Climate First, a full-service community bank focused on environmental sustainability, announced the launch of OneEthos around its first anniversary in June.
Ken LaRoe, chairman and CEO of Climate First Bancorp, believes banks should make it easy for people l for people to spend their money according to their social and environmental values. He told the Catalyst that bank officials and the Ecountabl team discussed making their software available to Climate First customers this summer before acquiring the platform for an undisclosed price.
“It was an easy decision because we already knew their values aligned with ours,” said LaRoe. “Working together, we’ll have a greater impact in the fight against the climate crisis and achieving carbon drawdown.”
Ecountabl collects data on streaming platforms, large retailers, consumer goods and employers. Users select what issues matter the most to them according to personal importance, like clean air, water or habitat preservation.
They then link bank or credit card accounts to the platform, and Ecountabl provides “ValueFit” scores for purchases. A provided screengrab from the mobile application shows ExxonMobil receiving a 51, while Starbucks boasts a perfect 100.
Ecountabl provides personalized brand recommendations and shows users companies owned by parent corporations. For example, the platform lists Seattle’s Best Coffee and Ethos Water, along with their ValueFit scores, underneath the Starbucks Corporation umbrella.
Another screengrab from the app shows that customers receive the same data as potential company investors. That includes categories like gender equality, racial equality and human rights. The platform also breaks those down into information subsets, such as pay equity assessments, customer treatment and corporate human rights scores.
LaRoe said Climate First’s and OneEthos’ mission is to provide customer solutions that help make sustainable decisions, and acquiring Ecountable will go a long way towards achieving that goal.
“With this information, customers can analyze their personal shopping habits,” he said. “Adding the Ecountabl software to our suite is one of many ways we will empower customers to fight the climate crisis through their daily spending decisions.”
OneEthos is now integrating the new technology into the core Climate First platform. Officials expect it to open to customers next year.
To ensure a seamless transition, two Ecountabl co-founders have joined OneEthos. Andy Burr, its CEO, is now the chief growth officer for OneEthos, while Justin Bretting, chief technology officer, will serve in the same role post-acquisition.
Expanding the team, said LaRoe, widens the scope of sustainable digital banking solutions that OneEthos can develop. He also relayed his excitement to watch Burr, Bretting and Marcio deOliveira, co-founder and CEO of OneEthos, establish the platform as a leader in the environmental and social governance fintech industry.
Burr said he and his colleagues founded Ecountabl to help financial institutions better serve customers, and he believes the sale will ensure the technology they built makes a positive global impact. He added that they will continue working to create “groundbreaking, climate-positive solutions.”
As OneEthos’ new chief growth officer, Burr declined to say if the platform planned to acquire other companies. Instead, he said the current focus is integrating Ecountabl and expanding Climate First’s current digital solution offerings.
“Including our solar loan technology platform,” he added. “And scaling to serve additional community banks and mission-aligned financial institutions.”
According to a provided fact sheet, the digital solar lending platform helped the bank reach over $200 million in assets and $140 million in loans in its first year of operation. Climate First Bancorp completed the acquisition of Ecountabl Oct. 31.
Ecountabl placed among the top three climate fintech startups in a 2021 global competition sponsored by Mastercard and Barclays US Consumer Bank.