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Tech insights: Programmable Banking Community: Creating Awareness of the Environmental Impact of Your Bank Transactions

Programmable Banking Community: Creating Awareness of the Environmental Impact of Your Bank Transactions

By Nick Benson

Jomiro Eming had some fun with the brief at the recent Spreadsheet Banking Hackathon. Here, he walks last month’s Programmable Banking meet-up through his eco-friendly Captain Planet submission, which shows that spending with a conscience can be a relatable and rewarding experience.

Transcript of the demo

Nick Benson 0:00

Cool, awesome. Hey, check all the pretty faces! So, we’re moving on to Jomiro, and Captain Planet.

Jomiro Eming 0:15

Cool. Thank you so much, Nick. I want to make sure I share the right screen. There we go. Righty. Okay, so a little bit of background. The problem I had was that my bank transactions hide a lot of my carbon footprint. And that, because my transactions reflect my lifestyle, there’s a lot of hidden data about the impact I’m having on the environment in there. And secondly, just a list of transactions doesn’t really motivate me to do better. The thing I tried to create here is a) something that surfaces the carbon footprint that I leave in my wake for each transaction. And something that makes being a better sort of eco-ambassador way more personal and way more motivating. This will eventually be connected to my bank account. I’ve just done some mock transactions here for the sake of this. I’m going to start off with the thing that takes the longest time, and then explain the rest of it. So basically, when I hit ‘update transactions’, what’s going to happen is an AI integration. It’s going to take my bank transactions, feed it through AI, and GPT3 is going to make an evaluation on the impact based on the vendor name, which I’m going to use later on in my HUD and stuff. While it’s doing this, I’m just going to take you through the rest of some of these sheets. This is all part of the, I guess, backend side of it. You don’t interact with this. But you can sort of tweak it, change it, and customise it and all of this. Basically, lots of calculations and cool Excel formulas. The real fun is on the HUD. It’s going to tweak out while it’s finishing the transactions. And while it’s doing that, there are four main components to this that I want to highlight. The one is an evaluation of my carbon footprint. The second is my eco sidekick. The third is a set of green objectives. And the last one [is] custom tips. So, I’m going to start [with] this little top-right thing. I wanted to gamify it a bit because otherwise, you know, it’s not fun. I currently have a tree-hugger eco-warrior level. And my current eco sidekick is Snow White. As I upgrade my eco-warrior level, I […] unlock new sidekicks. That’s kind of the motivator for me to be better. That kind of feeds into my summary on the top left over here. Based on my transactions, my current eco impact is medium, which is not great, but it’s OK. And the AI integration takes my eco sidekick, tells them what my eco impact is, and gets a comment from them. So right now, Snow White is saying, ‘Oh, sorry, were you looking for a pat on the back? Here, let me get my environmentalism cape’. So, kind of snarky. I don’t feel great about my impact now. And I want to do something better. Based on that, the other two components are where I can sort of tweak my impact. Over here it basically just pulls my biggest high-impact transaction and tells me […] through the API integration, it tells me why it’s such a bad transaction. It kind of educates me on why my Uber trip for R223 is not so great, and they get some information there. And based on that, because just knowing it’s bad doesn’t help, the AI also gives me a set of custom tips on things that I can do to reduce my impact. Some of them will be more related to Uber, or an Uber trip; some will be peripheral. [It’s telling] me I can drive less, and take the bus, also reducing food waste… I’m guessing that’s because Uber also has UberEATS. So that’s a kind of cool little thing. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also this gamify thing. My current objective is to put a recycling bin in my house. Once I’ve done that, I can just tick it off. And then the next one will come up, and it’s also going to update. I’ve just unlocked Nick Fury. My current eco-warrior level is now upgraded to an eco ops director. And there’s a new quote when you comment from Nick Fury. And he’s telling me if I’m not part of the solution, I’m part of the problem, so obviously not enough and I want to do more. Now I want to turn down the temperature on my geyser. So essentially, there’s 12 levels in this current iteration. It goes from Snow White to Nick Fury to Goku to Gandalf, each one with their own little thing.

Jomiro 5:09

And that’s pretty much what I’ve got so far. I have a few cool future ideas, which I just dumped here. There’s a cool integration to do with summaries and insights. I didn’t get to it this time but adding it to a power automate trigger. And then having summaries every week or every month, with my eco sidekick congratulating me or telling me off, would be really cool. You can also do custom characters. Maybe Michael and I can do a collab and get a chat bot on Telegram to do a green AI assistant. And also like, you know, my eco sidekick, rewarding me for green spending, where you set limits on card spends, and types of vendors, and then Snow White can buy me something every week from those vendors if I do well. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I wanted to try and keep this short for questions. If anyone has any comments, I would love to hear them. Also check the mural board, I guess.

Judges Comments

Nick 6:10

There are a couple there. Just to kick us off. Devina? Any feedback on this one?

Devina Maharaj 6:18

Yeah, we were actually at home when I was doing this. And my girls were with me. And they were just loving it. The fact that you gave [inaudible] and you had Snow White and Gandalf and all of these amazing characters on it, got them really into it. And they loved that they were now all eco warriors. It was really exciting. And I think you made it a lot of fun, which was really good and exciting. And it made it quite relatable to anyone. The one question I did have, because I think I don’t know how much you guys know about ESG. It’s a hot topic […] now around environmental, social [and] governance. And many corporates and companies are looking at their carbon footprint and […] the impact that they’re having. It was quite interesting for us to look at this and look at it in a business sense and wonder if there was some application there around using this for companies. But I think definitely, we loved it. And it was really nice to see a different spin on what we were thinking about from a spreadsheet perspective. So really well done. It was a very different take on it and very unique. We love the idea.

Jomiro 7:42

Cool, thanks. Yeah, the business application is an interesting one. You know, the framework is here, you can just tweak … Maybe Investec wants to be congratulated by Snow White, I don’t know. [Laughter] But you can always change the sort of the way it speaks to you as well. That’s totally doable since the framework is there.

Nick 8:07

I was just mentioning that also, I really loved it. I love the eco slant to everything. So yeah, on the mural board, there are a couple [of questions] there.

Jomiro 8:15

Yeah. Someone asked how GPT works. The connection with GPT is basically, I’m feeding it a prompt, which I sort of put together in the sheet. Tell me if I’m not answering the question. I’m feeding it a prompt, and then it’s digesting that prompt and giving me back a completion. And then I take that completion and do stuff with it. If there’s a certain part of it that I need, I pull it out. But GPT, in a more general sense, is a language model. Michael had a great example of that, where it pulls characters that it’s been trained on, and can speak like them, because it’s sort of got an idea of what their mannerisms are. I don’t know if that answers the question …

Nick 9:08

Then Pieter, what did you think of this project?

Pieter Heyns 9:13

Yeah, thanks a lot for the submission. I really enjoyed this one. Also, just because it was sort of completely different and unique for in terms of an idea. […] I thought you did a great job of basically putting it out, laying up and presenting sort of a final product. It looks quite polished; it looks like it can work on its own as a standalone sort-of app that you could ship. I thought that it was really great. I was also wondering about the business application. I do think that, you know, companies are starting to care more and more about this. And also […] I think individuals are starting to care more […] about this. I think this could also be something interesting. And yeah, I was also wondering how accurate the GPT3 information is. […] I know it’s trained on data and information, and I wasn’t sure how factually correct that is. And then one other idea, I guess it could also be cool, if you do something that’s good for the environment, [or] if you do something bad, you can basically do a small transfer to your savings account, and then you have to buy a tree with that, at the end of the month or the year[…]. That could be a cute or a cool sort of incentive to get you to spend better.

Jomiro 10:45

Nice. Yeah, I love that suggestion. On the training data, that’s a great question. I basically just put together some training data. And GPT3 is as accurate as the training data you give it because it’s got the entire internet basically. I think if you’re going to invest [in] […] really making this accurate, you can get an eco-specialist to come and tell you what the exact carbon impact of every transaction is. Build a really intense training data sample from this eco-specialist, carbon-footprint specialist, and then, I have no doubt the information that it generates will be accurate.

Pieter 11:27

Yeah, and then I think the one thing that’s just maybe […] – I know, these submissions are not polished and great – but I think it was hard to sort of figure out how to set it up. I think if you release this more […] as a template, you could do some work to … I really liked that it was polished; you had this nice dashboard that got you to the answers. I think that was really good work.

Jomiro 11:51

Thanks

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