Consumers Want to Know the Social Impact of Their Spending, Aspiration Says

“Where is my money going?!” is a common enough shopping refrain, but consumers might be doing more than lamenting bad spending habits.

According to “socially conscious” bank Aspiration, consumers are legitimately asking where their money is going—that’s why the startup launched its new Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) feature earlier this morning. The feature, live today and offered right in Aspiration’s existing app, shows consumers how the company receiving the funds from their purchases treats its employees. It also shows the company’s environmental impact.

“We saw that there’s this huge growth in the percentage of people who are thinking of economic factors when they make purchases,” Aspiration CEO Andrei Cherny told Bank Innovation. “But there’s never been a way for people to know…they wanted help thinking about that,” said Cherny.

Aspiration tracks two main factors for about 5,000 companies–restaurants, retailers, coffee shops, and other– measuring the impact of those companies on “people and planet,” as Cherny puts it. The factors are tracked from the purchases made from a user’s Aspiration card, supported by Mastercard.

That today’s consumers can be a bit more tight-fisted with their money if they don’t like the end receivers isn’t much in doubt (recent examples of Uber and United at hand). But will this new approach be enough to add customers?

“I think it absolutely will—in terms of core accounts we’re adding about 3,000 per week,” said Cherny. “Our average customer is 32, so we’re very much in the sweet spot. This [feature] hits a need.”

The company might open the feature to other cards eventually, and possibly even whitelabel the service to clients.

“This is a launch, it’s never been done before. We’re committed to building [the product] out,” said Cherny. “We’ll see how the product develops,” he added. The feature is live today for both Apple and Android devices.

This feature is in line with a growing trend of transparency within financial services, as consumers become more curious about the end impact of their spending and investments. Startups, such as Stash Invest for example, provide an “I Believe” section of investments in their app, for those who wish to invest in companies that support their personal values. However, before Aspiration, the approach has not been widely seen in personal banking.

 

 

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