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Aspiration can now tell you the ‘social impact’ of your monthly spending



Looking for some insight into the societal cost of buying a cup of coffee, a double cheeseburger, or a pack of cigarettes? Well, financial services startup Aspiration now has an app for that.

The fascinating fintech company that was co-founded by former Bill Clinton speechwriter Andrei Cherny just launched a new feature inside its mobile banking app that tracks a customer’s spending and offers them a report on the social impact of their consumption at the end of each month.

Several startups have tried to give consumers the tools to track which companies are aligned with their personal values, but none (to my knowledge) have integrated that into a monthly roundup that is directly tied to a bank account.

Aspiration tracks how companies perform on two main metrics. The first is how they treat their employees and the communities they operate in. The second is how companies treat the planet.

It’s an extension of the push some big time money managers are making to hold corporations accountable through shareholder advocacy around what’s called “stakeholder rights” — jargon for how a company treats the communities around it rather than the investors who back it. For example, does a company dump toxic waste into local streams and rivers or finance scholarships for underprivileged students and treat sick puppies?

“In this day and age, money talks,” Cherny said. “Imagine weaponizing that consumer sentiment and putting it in your pocket.”

For Cherny, the new tool is an extension of the work he’s been doing since his days working with former Vice President Al Gore, empowering consumers to understand how best to use the power of their purse.