HSBC, one of the driving forces of the shift towards
the integration of social responsibility
into retail banking,
has issued its first environmentally-friendly credit card. Called
the Green Credit Card, the product is being initially rolled out in
Hong Kong – and the bank has signed up US actor Leonardo DiCaprio
in a headline grabbing initiative to promote the launch.

In an interview with RBI, Louisa Cheang, head of
personal financial services, HSBC Hong Kong, said: “This is the
first green credit card in Hong Kong and the first within the HSBC
Group, but we hope other countries in the group will adopt this if
there is a market for it.”

HSBC will accept applications for the card from 7 April and is
promoting the launch with print, radio, outdoor and online
advertising. Paper statements for customers have been binned in
favour of online statements to reduce paper consumption.

The bank will donate 0.1 percent of customer spending on the new
card – made from PET G, a chlorine-free material – to its Green
Roof for Schools programme, a HK$5 million ($640,000) local
environmental protection project that will create outdoor
classrooms for teachers and students in selected schools in Hong

“By spending with the Green Credit Card, which creates a platform
for customers to partner with the bank to protect the environment
in their daily lives, cardholders can actually contribute to a
meaningful cause. It is a win-win situation: the green card
addresses real customer needs and allows the bank to integrate
corporate responsibility and sustainability in the way they do
business,” said Cheang.

“Apart from supporting global environmental projects and policies,
we also hope to engage our local customers to contribute to
environmental protection through practical solutions. Our focus
group study also showed that people increasingly want to do things
in ways that have less impact on the environment without radically
changing their lifestyles.”

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An environmental advocate

Cheang is equally upbeat about the choice of DiCaprio to publicise
the launch.

“As an environmental advocate, Leonardo DiCaprio was an ideal
partner in helping HSBC promote the launch of the green card in
Hong Kong. His stature and personal environmental efforts
complement HSBC’s own initiatives to raise awareness for
environmental protection and offer practical solutions to customers
who want to have an eco-friendly lifestyle.”

HSBC has already been offering finance for products that support
eco-friendly business in Hong Kong with interest rebates for loans
for equipment that complies with environmental protection
regulations. For every HK$2,000 of the loan amount, HSBC donates
HK$1 to WWF Hong Kong, the environmental conservation organisation,
said Cheang.

HSBC’s card launch follows similar high profile card releases in
the past year. These include Barclays’ Breathe card in the
UK, which donates a percentage of its profits to environmental
projects dedicated to reducing carbon emissions around the world,
and Rabobank’s award-winning environment-focused credit card
(see Best
of the best