Digital Vision: Digital Banking

Greener Banking

Decarbonizing through digital: business transformation at NS&I

Jill Waters, Retail Director, NS&I

Decarbonizing, while keeping a customer focus is integral to the future of NS&I. We are achieving this is by putting the customer at the heart of everything that we do, as well as having digital transformation at the forefront of our minds, ensuring effective and successful delivery for our customers.

NS&I is a unique organization. We are one of the largest savings organizations in the UK, offering a range of savings and investments to 25 million customers. All our products offer 100% capital security because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.

Like other financial services institutions, we continue to face major market disruption and competition. Yet as a publicly-funded body, we must also balance the needs of taxpayers and our customers. As an incumbent with a traditional customer base, some of our core products have remained largely unchanged over our long history. Yet, our digital transformation is profound and ongoing – and it is helping us decarbonize our operations.

Back in 2014, we made a stand to achieve a shift of 82% of our customers to digital by 2021. Atos, our transformation partner, was even bolder and set the target at 92%, which we have achieved. The world has changed significantly since then. Our customers’ use of digital has evolved and the appetite for decarbonized operations and products has grown; and as for many other organizations, this has been hugely accelerated during the pandemic.

Customer Focus

Customers want convenience, security and simple-to-use services, with the mobile app now our baseline channel for customer service. Our service design has evolved to be customer journey-based instead of product-based. The guiding principle of our digital transformation has been to be ‘easy to do business with’, which is increasingly linked directly to operational resilience. Cost, control and the fight against fraud and financial crime are still critical drivers. The culture of the financial services sector, like others, is placing even greater emphasis on continuity and resilience.

The transactions side of our business is still in the transformation space. With values of up to £1 million per transaction, we are naturally cautious about balancing seamless access with regulatory and security frameworks. On the product side, we are now in the era of digital-native, decarbonized products. Our new Green Savings Bond and its forerunners are all online only.

Decarbonized Digital

Decarbonization is now at the forefront of our business, which is why the launch of our Green Savings Bond is so important. This is particularly attractive to younger customers as the biggest green advocates. We’re focusing on how we communicate about the Bond through the website, explaining that with every pound our customers invest, they are helping to cut carbon footprints and making a contribution to green projects.

In terms of our operational impacts, through our Paper Reduction Scheme, which began in mid-2018, we have removed 421 tons of C02e (23.02%) from paper communications processes. This would take a single mature tree 19,136 years to absorb the equivalent level of C02e that we have saved from paper reduction. Based on volume forecasts for 2021, we anticipate reducing our carbon footprint by a further 31.52%.

Elsewhere, as a result of lockdown during Covid-19, carbon emissions from business travel by exception was reduced by 31,066 kgC02e (90.6%). We are continuing with our strategy to widen and accelerate on decarbonization with our customers and across our business and supply chain. While a key characteristic of NS&I is the stability and continuity we can offer our customers, it is imperative that we stay agile and continuously innovate to deliver on our corporate social responsibility, remain relevant to our customers, and retain our unique role in raising cost-effective financing in the UK.

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