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18.07.2023 9 min read

Examples from practice:

How Accurate Are CO₂ Calculations with the Carbon Footprint Manager?

How Accurate Are CO₂ Calculations with the Carbon Footprint Manager?


Three practical examples

Can bank customers contribute to achieving climate targets by making sustainable consumption decisions? The answer is a resounding yes! After all, households account for a whopping a big chunk of Switzerland’s domestic emissions. However, the devil is in the details: who actually has an understanding, let alone an overview, of their carbon footprint?

Interest is high, though, with around 57% of respondents to a Contovista study stating they were interested in their carbon footprint. With the Carbon Footprint Manager, Contovista offers consumers a precise tool for calculating their personal carbon footprint directly in their bank’s mobile banking interface. We explain how the tool works using three concrete examples.

How Do CO₂ Calculations in E-Banking Work?

The uniqueness of Contovista’s solution, developed in collaboration with our partner Deedster, lies in its reliance on real transaction data directly from the customer’s bank account. Through this approach, we achieve a comprehensive and accurate calculation of the individual’s CO₂ consumption, providing near-real-time insights.

The carbon footprint calculation is based on two key factors:

  1. Transaction data categorisation by Contovista
  2. Sustainability information sourced from our partner, Deedster

The highly granular categorisation of transactions is made possible by Contovista’s data-driven banking expertise and digital linking with CO₂ data from the GreenTech Deedster.

Transaction data is broken down by categories and subcategories (approx. 240 subcategories). The multibanking option also allows data from accounts at other banks to be included.

For this purpose, Deedster uses high-quality, research-based Swiss climate data (CO₂ equivalent values, CO₂e), expressed in kilograms of CO₂e per Swiss franc, aligned with the national pricing landscape. The climate data comes from Deedster’s partnerships with Exiobase, WWF, Exponential Roadmap Initiative, and Race to Zero (UN), among others. We achieve a very high level of accuracy in calculations thanks to these multiple data sources. Nevertheless, there are still certain inaccuracies due to actual purchasing behaviour in individual cases.

Webinar Replay: CO₂-Footprint Calculation: Accuracy vs. Action!

Example 1: CO₂ Calculation: Supermarket Shopping

When users go shopping at the supermarket and use their card to pay, the merchant can be recognized via the transaction analysis. The purchase is categorised as “groceries”, with the average value of Swiss grocery shopping baskets used for the calculation.

By drawing on corresponding national data from Deedster (e.g. 700g CO₂e / CHF), the carbon footprint of the purchase is calculated and can be included in a monthly analysis.


Image: Transaction-based calculation of Contovista’s CO₂ footprint shown fpr shopping

In the future, consumers can make the informative value of the calculation even more precise by specifying their diet. For instance, meat eaters will receive the average value for Switzerland, whereas vegetarians, vegans, and other groups will receive appropriate factors that can be applied based on national values (e.g. factor 0.2 for vegans). To facilitate this, a lifestyle questionnaire is planned on our roadmap for 2024.

Example 2: CO₂ Calculation: Refuelling

The process is very similar for refuelling. The petrol station transaction is categorised by Contovista while Deedster provides the current average CO₂ contribution for each franc spent on fuel.

There is one complication, however, namely that food is often bought and paid for at petrol stations. And these have very different CO₂ values than fuel. With this in mind, Contovista has developed an algorithm that categorises transactions below a certain threshold as purchases. In the future, it will also be possible to obtain an even more precise statement by specifying the type of fuel (diesel or petrol).

Example 3: CO₂ Calculation: Plane Tickets

The principle should hopefully be clear now: Contovista categorises the transaction type for airline ticket purchases and then calculates the CO₂ contribution using Deedster averages according to the transaction amount. And we’ve also come up with a few things for this to make the calculation even more accurate.

In the future, users will be able to specify which class they typically book. Due to the spacious seating arrangement, business class tickets generate greater CO₂ emissions than economy tickets. However, they are also more expensive, which is taken into account in the calculation.

Tomorrow’s bank customers will also be able to specify the flight duration for each individual transaction categorised as a flight trip. This again significantly improves accuracy.

Many other details complete the calculation of the carbon footprint. For example, items that cannot be categorised are offset against a general average value, with cash withdrawals offset against the average for purchases. Basic user information, such as dietary habits, will be conveniently collected through questionnaires in the future, at least until flight providers or retailers provide more information about their shopping cart APIs.

Carbon Footprint Manager: A highly relevant offer for today’s bank customers

The bottom line is that Contovista and the Swedish sustainability specialists from Deedster deliver a forward-looking tool for data-driven banking that meets real customer needs with a personalised CO₂ calculation. This way, banks can position themselves as sustainable everyday partners for bank customers and thereby strengthen customer loyalty.

Additional tips, insights, and functions such as the personal CO₂ budget further increase the benefits. Deedster’s data is updated every three months. Moreover, Contovista continuously improves the categorisation by regularly adding to the list of retailers. Would you like more details on the Carbon Footprint Manager?

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