TreeCard raises $1m from Ecosia ahead of 2021 launch
TreeCard, a new fintech start-up, has raised $1 million in seed funding from tree planting search engine Ecosia.
The start-up was founded by 23-year-old CEO, Jamie Cox. He previously exited a Y Combinator start-up called Cashew.
TreeCard aims to launch next year, and is made of sustainable cherry tree wood.
The debit card will be made in partnership with Mastercard.
Ecosia, the search engine, has planted more than 110 million trees.
Ecosia notes on its website that TreeCard’s free debit card will use 80% of its profits to plant trees across Ecosia’s reforestation projects.
TreeCard’s donation will come from its interchange fees – the main revenue source for challenger banks – to deforestation initiatives.
Partnering with Ecosia means that for every £45/$60 spent on the card, the company can plant a tree and care for it for three years through the search engine’s existing network of 38 tree-planting locations worldwide.
Other founders include Peter Francis, who recently raised $250,000 for refugee camps across Lebanon and Iraq, and James Dugan.
“I used Ecosia a lot at university and thought ‘why don’t we make a fintech version of this,'” Cox tells Business Insider. “We approached Ecosia in January about funding because of the synergies and closed the round in the summer.”
Ecosia has 15 million users worldwide and is run as a B-corp. It is obliged to put its profits into climate change initiatives rather than into executives’ pockets.
“I’m thrilled that Ecosia users will have another way to contribute to the fight against the climate emergency with TreeCard,” says Ecosia CEO, Christian Kroll. “We will soon be able to help fight climate change simply by buying a round of drinks in the pub or by doing the weekly shop.”
Ecosia explains the reasons behinds its investment into TreeCard. It states: “we also believe that the financial sector and its ruthless pursuit of profit – e.g. by funding fossil fuels – is in dire need of political reform. If, in the meantime, ethical challengers like TreeCard can generate enough interest, the industry will be forced to take a hard look at itself.”
Users are able to reserve their cards now with the US likely to be the first launch location. People who register before 1 December will receive a free wooden card as soon as TreeCard launches. It claims to have no hidden fees, and no greenwashing.
The company will provide challenger bank services like spending alerts, in-app card management, and bill splitting.
TreeCard will be partnering with fintech platform Synapse, a back-end technology provider for banking and financial services, to connect with users in the US. It will harness open banking for its UK customers’ deposit services.