With managing environmental change and sustainability becoming a burning priority, a number of socially responsible corporations are doing their best to save the earth through initiatives to reduce consumption of resources like energy, power, water and paper and
regenerate resources like clean air and natural vegetation. Stringent environmental norms and policies, such as Green accounting are lending direction to the sustainability effort of industries, including banking and financial services.
While banks, like other organizations are implementing eco-friendly practices in their
day-to-day operations, as one of the prime movers of economic growth and industrial activity, they are in a position to do much more. Indeed, banks can effect large-scale change by supporting sustainable investment, ethical lending or green businesses as part of what they do; they can, for instance, “persuade” large borrowers across industries – from real estate to power to pharmaceuticals – to take a greener approach to business.
• Current Green Banking initiatives come in many forms: Creation of green financial
products and services, investment in bonds and mutual funds linked to environmental investments
• Priority or preferential lending to renewable energy or afforestation projects etc.
• Setting up of solar powered ATMs
• Fee waivers and concessions for environmentally-friendly residential projects
• New green model of branch banking, in which branches recycle water, use natural light, and conduct paperless transactions as far as possible.
• Discretion on extending credit to companies that don’t comply with ISO14000 norms
Banking technology vendors can also contribute to Green Banking by making their products energy efficient. Banking software solutions running on multiple channels – branch, ATM, Internet and mobile – do consume energy and if they could be designed to save even one watt per terminal per day, it would make a very sizeable impact.
Is it possible to make software energy efficient? Can software reduce a desktop’s power consumption in a bank? Can mobile banking software play a role in extending the battery
power of a mobile platform?
Emerging technology trends suggest that this is indeed possible. Research shows significant potential for saving energy through a combination of hardware and software optimization techniques.
Some measures to build energy efficient banking software could be:
Developing features that reduce paper usage in branch banking
Software vendors could develop biometrics-enabled software to enable customers to access safe deposit lockers, and thereby help banks do away with paper registers. Kiosks can replace written applications for taking requests for cash, bank drafts, etc. Digital money transfer via NFC or mobile wallet is a greener and more efficient way of moving funds.
By supporting electronic storage of regulatory reports signed digitally by authorized signatories, Core Banking software can help banks cut down significantly on paper consumption and storage costs.
Algorithms, protocols, data efficiency and context aware methods, tools and technologies supporting the creation of energy efficient software should be leveraged to make banking software more “power aware”. An energy efficient program is one, which uses minimum number of lines of code and generates output quickly to free up the CPU for low-power or additional tasks. Although this is a general goal of computational efficiency, it might be a good idea to progress towards it from the software development stage itself
Software vendors should partner with banks to co-create software designed to interact
efficiently with the bank’s OS, third party applications and hardware. For instance, they
could design an ATM, which goes into power saving mode when not in use.
Earlier, OS and microprocessor manufacturers aimed at performance efficiency; however, optimizing both performance and energy consumption has become a priority for these companies as well. Currently, there are tools to monitor an application’s performance but
none to check its energy consumption during various transactions. Here again, partnering
with the right vendors can help banks derive maximum advantage from opportunities to save software energy.
Combination of hardware and software optimizations
Energy efficiency can be improved by either increasing the number of operations per unit of energy consumed or decreasing the amount of energy consumed per operation. Increased energy efficiency reduces the operational cost of powering and cooling the system. It is particularly important in large installations such as data centers, where power and cooling costs can be sizable.
• Banks can reap benefit by switching to thin computing and using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Standard Bank’s London office successfully adopted this model to cut down energy consumption by one third. National Australia Bank has set a goal to
realize 90% virtualization of servers and turn the bank, including its data center,
• Cloud computing offers another way to conserve energy and IT budgets. Software providers and consultants should proactively educate traditional banks about this
• Using energy efficient GUI for both core and mobile banking, and the right browser or application for desktop and mobile banking respectively can prolong mobile battery life, lower electricity costs and minimize environmental impact.
Client education and energy consulting
Software companies could offer energy consulting to clients as a value added service
at every stage of a project. For instance, they could guide banking clients on how to optimize energy or evaluate their solutions from an optimization standpoint.
If banking technology vendors were to collaborate with banks to create energy
efficient systems, it could result in large scale energy savings, thereby serving the interests of both parties, and of society in general
1. www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,238280 8,00.asp
3. www.cse.msu.edu/~cse891/Sect601 CaseStudy/ BiometricsBankingIndustry.pdf
4. Energy Management for Commercial Servers
Jaya Sudha Mahajanam
Lead Consultant, Infosys