Jomiro Eming has created a spreadsheet add-in that helps people understand the environmental impact of their lifestyles as reflected in their transactional behaviour. Best of all, he’s made it fun and relatable. Check out his demo here.
The environmental impact of your transactions
One of the tricky things about mitigating climate change is that so many of our modern, everyday activities are bad for the environment. The way we travel, eat, communicate, dress and even entertain ourselves all have carbon footprints along the various supply chains they follow to become part of our lives.
But what if we could identify the impact of these activities through our financial transactions? Jomiro Eming, a freelance graphic designer who is teaching himself to code and member of the Programmable Banking community, thought this would be a great way to understand the role we all play in climate change. “My transactions reflect my lifestyle, so there’s a lot of data about the impact I’m having on the environment in them,” he explains.
The only problem was that impact was too hidden in a traditional bank statement for one to understand it or feel motivated to do anything about it. So Jomiro set about creating a way to make it clearer. His solution, Captain Planet 2, reveals the environmental impact of your transactions by categorising them into high, medium or low impact, then gamifying this to engage and motivate individuals to modify their behaviour.
How it works
The solution is made possible through integration with Investec’s API and OpenAI’s GPT-3 API. It also makes use of a low-code tool, Spreadsheet Banking, which connects Investec’s API to Microsoft Excel. Captain Planet 2 functions as an Excel spreadsheet add-in.
Once you’ve added it to your sheet, it creates a carbon database sheet that you link to your bank account. When you update the transactions, it feeds your information through OpenAI’s GPT-3 API, which uses AI to evaluate the environmental impact of each transaction based on the vendor name. “This is the back end of the solution, so the user doesn’t really interact with it,” says Jomiro. “However, it can be tweaked and customised if you like.”
The real fun, says Jomiro, is the Carbon Impact Dashboard, which he believes is the key differentiator. “A list of transactions doesn’t really motivate me to do anything more for the environment. This app makes things much more personal by having me interact with familiar characters, who talk to me about my impact.”
The Caborn Impact Dashboard has four main components: an evaluation of your carbon footprint; your eco sidekick; a set of green objectives; and custom tips. The interface draws attention to transactions you should try to avoid, like an expensive taxi ride, for example. In this case, the AI explains why taking a taxi is bad for the environment, and then offers some tips to improve your behaviour such as taking the bus or carpooling.
Gamification comes through completing eco-warrior achievements, such as putting a recycling bin in your house, and upgrading your eco-warrior level, which unlocks new sidekicks. These sidekicks, based on well-known characters such as Snow White, Nick Fury and Mr T, offer comment ranging from snark to praise.
Power Automate and chatbot integration as future ideas
Jomiro’s solution is currently workable, but he’s got some ideas to improve it in future. These include summaries and insights that could be added to a Power Automate trigger every week, month or nth transaction. There’s scope for users to build their own custom characters, adding a greater degree of personalisation and emotional investment to the process.
He’s also considering integrating with a chatbot, feeding the AI transaction information and asking if for advice about alternative greener vendors or custom carbon footprint tips based on your specific spending patterns. There’s even the possibility of programming your eco sidekick to buy you a reward based on your environmental impact, within the parameters of spend limit and types of vendors.
Devina Maharaj, Programme Head for Investec Business Online and API Banking South Africa, says the unique take on transactional information makes it exciting and relatable to anyone. “I also think that with environmental, social and governance concerns so prevalent now, there may be an application for businesses with this solution too.”
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