The failure of NewB, which loses its banking license (and is moving towards a possible liquidation, or, at the very least, a sharp reduction in activities), brings us back its share of rather bitter lessons.
The vision and intentions of this “ethical and sustainable” bank were very attractive: even more than any other sector, the financial world must change.
If we want to influence the system, it is imperative to change in depth the software that manages the financial exchanges. I subscribe to such a need, and I subscribed to shares of NewB (but I did not open an account there, like too many others…).
After two years of launching, and of experimentation, we must note that the sauce does not take, or not yet… It is not a question of condemning without nuance: a bank which wants to be virtuous is obliged to compel itself to constraints that do not affect its more traditional counterparts; the competitive terrain is not equal.
Which, looking beyond the single NewB example, leads us to dilemmas: should we favor profitability, even if it means moving away from the initial spirit, or preserving an immaculate virtue, even if it means risking failure or bankruptcy ? Thus, we meet entrepreneurs and projects with a why very strong: a visceral desire to change a world they can no longer accept.
While I respect such a commitment to purpose, I tend to be less of a die-hard sustainability fundamentalist myself. Of course I prefer an event where you drink city water rather than plastic bottled water, but I’m not going to discredit a speaker, taken bottle in hand…
It is very difficult to change the machine from the inside… even more so if you think that it would be good for it to continue to function, and render certain services. Those who reject the whole system as a whole may not realize how much it allows key functions such as schools, hospitals, public transport…
We need companies that are moving towards “a better world”, but to do so, it is more important that they are sustainable rather than perfect.