e3Bank (enterprise, environment, equity) is a new (mostly*) online bank who believes in “banking on the triple bottom line.” Begun by Frank J. Baldassarre, Jr. President/CEO and Sandy Wiggins, Chairman, e3Bank’s green banking scenario is not an entirely new idea, but their goal is a new way of doing banking to help institute a new way of thinking about business as it relates to the community and the environment. They want to increase 2 kinds of green – cash and the planet – as well as create a modern business with the feel of an old school neighborhood bank (the kind where the teller calls you by name before she sees it written on your paperwork).
You may be asking how a bank goes green in the first place. Certainly, e3 will not be the only bank out there primarily run online, but that is only one of the ways they are green. e3Bank will offer all the same products and services as a traditional banking establishment, but with a smaller carbon footprint and an eye on the environment. They will offer a breakdown of spending for each customer, as well as showing how certain expenses make an impact on the environment, as a way to hopefully induce people to pay attention to their eco-impact and possibly try to increase their positive effect every period. With their Green Assist program, they will help customers by cutting through the red tape which currently impedes access to the financial incentives offered for implementing green improvements or builds – in other words, they make it easier for you to get your money back when you spend money on green projects like solar panels or green roofing.
They’ve come up with some clever alternatives to traditional banking. Since there will only be one actual branch of the bank - built from a reclaimed house in Malvern, PA - when business requires face-to-face meeting with clients, they plan to do house calls, and/or take meetings at local “e3Bank Pods”, where they’ve co-branded with local businesses to share an existing space. You’ll be able to deposit your check by scanning it onto your computer, just like you would scan a photo. They intend to offer credit/debit cards made from recycled plastic – once talks with vendors conclude, as they are the first bank ever to ask for such a thing. In addition, they have no plans to build new ATMs, but instead have entered into an agreement with other banks to utilize existing structures, and intend to refund any fees customers may incur.
Baldasarre has a background primarily in finance, and Wiggins primarily in green real estate. The two met on the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, which Wiggins founded. When the question was posed whether they lived green outside of business, you might expect it was Baldasarre who struggled with the answer, but his response was a pleasant surprise. His family composts, gardens organically, uses only compact fluorescent bulbs, and both men try to live as low-impact as possible, with Wiggins living in what he refers to as a “walkable community,” to reduce the amount of travel he does each week.
They are also community oriented and they want to allow investments by people as well as corporations. Therefore, you can invest in e3Bank for as little as $5000. If they get the required $20 mil, they are scheduled for launch in October. The biggest question for an investor is, does e3Bank have a good business model? The American Banking Association thinks so. They have been approached by the ABA to teach these principles and practices to other banks around the country.
*Banking regulators require banking establishments to have at least 1 physical branch.