Fintech startups are aware that ESG criteria are fundamental, but applying them in practice remains difficult. More than 62% of them recognize the strategic importance of ESG criteria – Environmental (environmental), Social & Governance and 46% that they express an “essential” competitive advantage both for raising funds/capital and for selling products or signing commercial agreements . However, “only” 46% and 31% respectively implement sustainable environmental/energy and governance policies. More attention is paid to the “traditional” Social factor (85%). This is what emerges from the research “Fintech startups and ESG horizon”, carried out by Excellence Consulting, in collaboration with the fintech and insurtech accelerator program Fin+Tech, on a sample of 40 national fintech startups.
46% already implement or plan to invest in environmental policies in the next few years, 85% in social ones and 54% in Governance. However, there are still delays in communicating results to stakeholders: for example, only 23% with regard to corporate sustainability and 46% for Social. All of this can represent a limit because the trend of the big banks – starting from Intesa San Paolo and Unicredit – is to collaborate with fintechs to become digital banks and ESG issues are a meeting point and a discriminating factor in the choice.
“This work – says Guido Crespi, Partner Excellence Consulting – confirms, on the one hand that the ESG issue is fundamental and indispensable, on the other hand that grounding it is difficult: in fact all the fintech startups consulted share the importance of the ESG coefficient , fewer are those that concretely decline this intention. It is no coincidence that it is the Social element, more “traditional” and assimilated for some time, which finds more space than the Environmental and Governance ones, probably more complex and expensive to put into practice. as a result, the ability of fintech startups to communicate these topics to stakeholders suffers, which not only hinders the ability to raise funds and emerge on the market, but risks leaving the field open to green washing initiatives by unscrupulous operators.
“As we have explored – says Maurizio Primanni, CEO of Excellence Consulting – in another of our recent analysis “From digital transformation to digital competition”, the most recent trend of the large international and Italian banks, starting with Intesa San Paolo and Unicredit, is to launch new digital banks also relying on fintechs who know how to build new generation applications, with the aim of converting the current legacy systems over time, often a weakness of incumbent banks. ESG factors will be increasingly relevant for banks, including in the choice of partners, including fintechs, to collaborate with. It therefore becomes necessary for them to associate awareness with the action of making themselves not only innovative but also increasingly sustainable.”