Mogo’s (MOGO.T) digital spending account is all about harm reduction to the environment

Mogo (MOGO.T) launched their new digital spending account MogoSpend with the Mogo Visa Platinum prepaid card. So, basically, the company has released a digital spending account attached to a credit card that’s supposed to help us clean up our environment while helping Canadians with their financial issues.

You don’t have to look far to find the damage that consumer debt has done to the country. We’ve got substantial problems with credit card debt, overconsumption, and subsequent damage to the environment and yes, the three are directly linked. If we’re not inclined to be charitable, we could even say that the three things are correlated, if not downright causal.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves by inferring causation from correlation.

Here’s what David Feller, Mogo’s founder and CEO has to say:

“One of the biggest financial challenges consumers face is overspending and 57 per cent of Canadians now carry credit card debt. With MogoSpend, our goal was to create a product that gives consumers even more control than a debit card and with cashback rewards that rival the best credit cards in Canada, without charging monthly or annual fees, and importantly, we wanted to make this a card that also helps make a positive impact on the planet.”

MogoSpend comes with the first and only card in Canada (debit, credit or prepaid) to launch with a carbon offset program, so consumers can have a positive impact on the environment simply through using it. Mogo will offset one pound of carbon dioxide for every dollar spent using the card. They’ve partnered with Offsetters to help them reduce and offset their carbon footprint. Offsetters is a company which measures greenhouse gasses, engages in project development, water footprinting, climate change science and policy.

Cash or credit

Cash and credit are both terrible for the environment, but in different ways. The average $5 bill stays 16 months in circulation before its worn down and taken out of circulation. Credit cards are made of PVC, which most recycling depos won’t take, and produces nasty, caustic gasses and chemicals when burned.

Here are some benefits to having a credit card (over cash):

  • Stop credit card pre-approvals from being mailed to your home
  • Switch to paperless billing and paperless receipts
  • Consider a mobile payment system to eliminate both paper and plastic from your spending routine
  • Be mindful of your credit card spending — only buy what you need
  • Shred expired credit cards and take them to a PVC recycling center in your area
  • Consider donating your rewards to an environmental organization

But credit cards are a difficult sell nowadays. Mostly because we’ve all got so many (on average) and they’re usually close to maxed-out. Living in 2020 is expensive, even with a modest salary and decent accommodations, you’ve got a lot to think about when it comes to financial management. Adding another credit card into the mix needs an edge, and from that standpoint, adding an angle that promises nice things for the environment makes sense.

There’s also the problem that people spend more when carrying credit cards than with cash. Cash runs out and it’s not practical to carry around the amounts of it available on a credit card. They’re easier, less of a short-term hassle and they provide instant gratification, which means that we buy more with credit cards than cash. That translates to more trash, more transportation CO2 from cargo-planes and transport trucks, more metals dug out of the earth for items like Iphone 10’s, and nickel-plated laptop batteries.

That’s more energy expended, and with the exception of those places using hydroelectric or other reuseable fuels, more fossil fuels in general burned, and left floating around in the atmosphere. The only way to actually resolve the climate change issue isn’t by offsetting a pound of CO2 for every dollar spent, but to actually spend less. Issuing a credit card isn’t going to accomplish that.

The selling point here isn’t reduction of carbon footprint to zero. That’s impossible. What Mogo, and other credit card retailers offering a climate angle and there are a few, are offering is harm minimization. It’s a utilitarian notion—the least amount of damage to the least amount of people—is the functional equivalent of the greatest good for the greatest number.


MogoSpend is a free app available through Mogo’s iOS and Android. It’s used similar to a chequing account, but members receive a Mogo Visa Platinum prepair card to use for purchases. Canadians can transfer money from their bank account to MogoSpend and manage and track their spending through the Mogo app.

Here’s Feller again:

“Being more mindful around spending can help us achieve important life goals like buying a home and retirement, and many of us are becoming increasingly aware that being a mindful consumer is key to a healthy planet. With Canada now in a state of climate emergency, and research reports showing that 72 per cent of [carbon dioxide] can be linked to individuals’ consumption, we wanted to make it easy for Canadians to make a positive impact.”

Mogo’s members get access to Mogo’s other products and features, including free monthly credit score monitoring, ID fraud protection, MogoCrypto, and personal loans and educational content about financial wellness.

—Joseph Morton

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