Newly launched Ando offers banking with a green conscience

The San Diego-based banking service says its investments support reduced carbon emissions

Mobile banking app Ando, which recently launched its services across the U.S., hopes to distinguish itself from other banks not just by its services and convenience, but by its commitment to supporting sustainable initiatives that combat the climate crisis.

The San Diego-based bank is a public benefit corporation and Ando CEO JP McNeil said that every dollar it gets from its customer base will be invested in green initiatives.

“We’re a digital bank that empowers everyone to have a positive impact on the environment and on the earth,” McNeil said.

Ando claims that banks have used $2.7 trillion worth of customer deposits to fund the fossil fuel industry since 2016, citing a 2020 Fossil Fuel Finance Report.

Ando is going against the grain by putting its funding toward projects that reduce carbon emissions and it doesn’t make customers pay fees or bear the expense, the company says. Ando clients can see how their money is being used across five categories, like clean energy and sustainable transportation that break down into more than 30 initiatives.

Ando was founded in 2019 when the founders began working on designing and building the platform and establishing banking and technology partnerships to launch its services, McNeil explained. The bank did a soft launch to a small subset of people in November 2020 but officially launched its services across the U.S. in the middle of January this year.

The bank offers a fee-free ATM network, peer-to-peer payments, money transfers, direct deposits and other features.

McNeil is passionate about sustainability, and before leading Ando founded Renovate America, which helps make homes and communities more energy- and water-efficient. McNeil said he came to the realization that the money he and his wife had in their checking and savings accounts at their local bank was invested in loans that weren’t “green,” such as fossil fuels and real estate.

“The vast majority of the banking industry doesn’t take into account any sort of carbon emissions, or any other social implication,” McNeil said. “Whether it’s environmental in nature, or whether it’s racial, gender, or income inequality, these are all social issues that we’re working towards improving and solving.”

Currently, Ando has 21 employees and is serving customers across the U.S. McNeil declined to share revenue metrics.

“The idea is to prove that if we incorporate intent and transparency into an existing industry, that ultimately we’re going to create systemic change within that existing industry, and ultimately, reorient capital in ways that are more meaningful and important to those that are entrusting and enabling the industry to do the things that it does,” he said.

Digital banking is a hot sector in 2021. Recently, Rho Technologies raised $15 million in a Series A round to build out a digital banking platform for businesses and to launch Rho AP, an accounts payable offering.

Everyone is wanting a piece of the banking industry nowadays, with nonbank companies stepping up their interest in national bank charters amid a “new normal” in financial services, analysts at research firm Aite Group say.

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