by Katie Hayes, Head of Marketing, Ozone API

As the payments and financial industries navigate a world increasingly focused on sustainability and ethical governance, the imperative to adopt Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies has never been more pronounced. With stakeholders – from consumers to investors – demanding greater transparency and responsibility, firms within this sector are uniquely positioned to lead the way in embedding ESG principles into their core operations.

This short article – the first in a series – offers a roadmap for companies to initiate or enhance their ESG journey, outlining key steps, from understanding the nuances between ESG and CSR, to setting actionable goals, and leveraging ESG for strategic advantage. It serves as an essential guide for payments and financial services firms aiming, not only to meet the evolving expectations of society, but to harness ESG as a catalyst for innovation, risk management, and sustainable growth.

1. Understanding the difference between ESG and CSR
ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), though often confused, serve different purposes. ESG is a broader, more integrated approach encompassing a company’s entire operations, focusing on sustainability, risk management, and value creation. CSR typically involves discrete initiatives for positive societal impact.

ESG includes CSR but goes beyond it, deeply embedding into the organisation’s core activities and strategies.

2. Conduct an initial ESG assessment
Utilise tools such as B Lab’s Impact Assessment Tool to gauge your current standing and highlight areas needing improvement. This will help in establishing a baseline for your future ESG strategies.

3. Start small and build up
Don’t be overwhelmed by the breadth of ESG. Begin with manageable initiatives and gradually expand your efforts. Even small steps can lead to significant impacts.

4. Identify key stakeholders and form a steering group
Recognize and engage individuals across your organisation who influence or are interested in ESG. Form a steering group to lead ESG initiatives, ensuring the inclusion of diverse departments and levels within the organisation.

5. Set clear and measurable goals
Develop specific, measurable goals aligning with both ESG standards and your business objectives. This might include targets like reducing carbon emissions or improving governance practices.

6. Aim to integrate ESG into an overall corporate strategy
ESG should intertwine with your business strategy. This requires aligning ESG goals with broader business objectives and embedding these considerations into all decision-making processes where possible.

7. Tackle Governance and cultural shifts
Effective ESG strategy involves a cultural shift within an organisation, starting from the top. Leadership and board buy-in are crucial. Encourage a culture of transparency and continuous learning.

8. Utilise existing resources and community knowledge
Leverage the wealth of knowledge available in existing ESG communities. Many professionals in this field are willing to share insights and experiences, which can be invaluable for beginners.

9. Focus on materiality assessment
Conduct a materiality assessment to determine which ESG aspects are most relevant to your business and stakeholders. This helps in prioritising efforts.

10. Be Open to continuous learning and evolution
The ESG landscape is continuously evolving. Stay open to learning and adapting your strategies as new information and standards emerge.

11. Emphasise the importance of ESG reporting
Reporting on ESG efforts differentiates it from CSR. Regular, transparent reporting on ESG initiatives and outcomes, both within the company and externally where appropriate, is crucial for credibility and stakeholder engagement.

12. Leverage ESG for strategic advantage
View ESG not just as a compliance requirement but as a strategic tool that can drive innovation, open new markets, and enhance customer and investor relations.

Getting started with an ESG strategy in financial services and fintech requires a combination of strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and a commitment to continuous improvement and transparency. By setting clear goals, engaging stakeholders, and utilising readily available tools and resources, it is possible for organisations to effectively integrate ESG into their core operations and culture, which in turn will lead to sustainable, long-term value creation, besides having an ethical imperative behind it.


Are you a member of The Payments Association?

Member benefits include free tickets, discounts to more tickets, elevated brand visibility and more. Sign in to book tickets and find out more.


Log in to access complimentary passes or discounts and access exclusive content as part of your membership. An auto-login link will be sent directly to your email.

Having trouble signing?

We use an auto-login link to ensure optimum security for your members hub. Simply enter your professional work e-mail address into the input area and you’ll receive a link to directly access your account.

First things first

Have you set up your Member account yet? If not, click here to do so.

Still not receiving your auto-login link?

Instead of using passwords, we e-mail you a link to log in to the site. This allows us to automatically verify you and apply member benefits based on your e-mail domain name.

Please click the button below which relates to the issue you’re having.

I didn't receive an e-mail

Tip: Check your spam

Sometimes our e-mails end up in spam. Make sure to check your spam folder for e-mails from The Payments Association

Tip: Check “other” tabs

Most modern e-mail clients now separate e-mails into different tabs. For example, Outlook has an “Other” tab, and Gmail has tabs for different types of e-mails, such as promotional.

Tip: Click the link within 60 minutes

For security reasons the link will expire after 60 minutes. Try submitting the login form again and wait a few seconds for the e-mail to arrive.

Tip: Only click once

The link will only work one time – once it’s been clicked, the link won’t log you in again. Instead, you’ll need to go back to the login screen and generate a new link.

Tip: Delete old login e-mails

Make sure you’re clicking the link on the most recent e-mail that’s been sent to you. We recommend deleting the e-mail once you’ve clicked the link.

Tip: Check your security policies

Some security systems will automatically click on links in e-mails to check for phishing, malware, viruses and other malicious threats. If these have been clicked, it won’t work when you try to click on the link.

Need to change your e-mail address?

For security reasons, e-mail address changes can only be complete by your Member Engagement Manager. Please contact the team directly for further help.

Still got a question?