Did you know that 2,200 € of savings pollute as much as a Paris-New York trip, because this money often finances industries with high CO2 emissions?2, the three largest French banks investing twice as much in fossil fuels as in renewable energies? It is on this duty of transparency and accountability of citizens that the Rift application was founded.
Rift is often presented as the Yuka of finance. Rather than evaluating the composition of food products, the application scans the societal and environmental impact of your current accounts, passbooks A and life insurance, as its co-founder Léo Garnier explains to us.
Futura: What is your solution?
Leo Garnier: The whole idea of Rift is both to “transparize” the assets saved and to make finance more accessible to give power back to savers. This is also why the application is free and very easy to access. All you have to do is specify the type of savings, its amount and the establishment concerned to know the sectors financed and the carbon impact emitted per year. For those who would like to direct their savings towards a more sustainable economy, the application also offers a list of products corresponding to their moral priorities, whether it is respect for human rights, the fight against climate change, etc. Note that all data collected is secure and anonymized.
Why is there such opacity in the world of finance?
Leo Garnier: The opacity makes it possible to keep a certain influence on its customers. Especially since, unlike others, such as the food industry, the sector has not been much titillated. It must be said that finance has long been considered amoral, that is to say, without a role to play in this changing world. Yet it serves, and even more today, as a catalyst for positive initiatives or has a major role in the transformation of large companies, given that in the current economic system companies respond to the demands of shareholders. In this sense, savings clearly have a role to play in influencing decisions.
Why will your start-up change the world?
Leo Garnier: According to the Rousseau Institute, 57 billion euros more per year (equivalent to about 2% of GDP) would have to be invested to limit the rise in temperatures to 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era. A figure that seems derisory compared to the 6,000 billion euros of outstanding savings of all French people. We believe that if citizens grasp the problem, financial institutions will have to accelerate their transition. Moreover, popular pressure could push the state to regulate this sector more strongly, following the example of European regulations which are still too slowly beginning to be put in place.
How did the project grow?
Leo Garnier: After developing the Belgian subsidiary of Lita.co which makes it possible to invest online in companies with a social, societal or environmental vocation, I joined Eva Sadoun to develop an application which makes it possible to respond to the lack of transparency in the financial sphere and to the plurality of methodologies used to judge the morality of investments and their carbon impact. Indeed, our investors regularly asked us the question of the “best life insurance” or the “best bank savings”. We were forced to realize that we ourselves were lost between ratings out of 5, from A to E developed in a black box. This is why we have established indicators that can be understood by the general public by comparing them to tangible physical quantities, for example the m² of biodiversity impacted. To go through with the process and be as credible as possible, the application was developed with reference partners, such as Oxfam or Carbon4 Finance.
What’s next in the story?
Leo Garnier: We are three to five years ahead of the new regulations that will see the light of day to impose more transparency on the world of finance and a truly successful duty to provide sustainable advice. The idea is therefore to increase the number of individual savings users, which currently number 50,000, then to gradually develop paid features, while keeping the core of the application free. At the same time, we are going to further develop the business advisory activity and the white label models to both reach a maximum number of savers and ensure our financing. Because the cost of recovering relevant data on the various assets saved is quite exorbitant and sometimes we even have to go through American bases to get information on French companies, which is quite paradoxical. In this regard, asset managers should really be forced to transmit them to a centralized database, with of course enough precaution to preserve industrial secrecy.
Is this one of the measures you would put in place if you were Prime Minister?
Leo Garnier: Yes, and it is obvious, for example, that a public investment plan 100% aligned with the ecological transition is needed, but also greater constraints on public procurement to take social and environmental criteria into account. It is really necessary not to be satisfied with fine speeches but rather to be based on concrete results. Take le label ISR for example, it is quite decried at the moment, because however virtuous it may be in its intentions, it only asks to exclude the 20% of companies with the lowest ratings, without even having the exclusion methodology audited. Also, excluding the worst 20% does not mean that the others excel. I also think that we need to involve more citizens who can put certain embarrassing subjects in the public square.
What will the world look like in 2050?
Leo Garnier: Very difficult to predict! On the subject of savings, we must not forget that the multiplication of climatic disasters, such as forest fires, extreme frosts, but also the conflicts that will result from them will have a significant impact on the economic world. Unfortunately, we now have a glimpse of it. It is therefore a question of preparing now, in particular large companies and the State which may have more inertia and whose capacity for change may be stimulated by their exposure to controversy and, on the contrary, slowed down by their dependence on the carbon world. .
What Futura hot topic excites you?
Leo Garnier: The article on the most beautiful photos of astronomy 2022 seems to me a good complement to this article to take a little height and live a poetic moment. I have always been sensitive to the immensity of the natural elements and from a stronger from space. Far be it from me to want to conquer it. Observing it with humility, as in this article, is not bad enough!