Making Money Accelerating the Green Transition: A Qualitative Research Study on Impact Fintechs' Balancing Economic and Sustainability Objectives

Anton Hans Hermann Sprick & Alina Stephanie Bone-Winkel

Student thesis: Master thesis


The financial industry is undergoing change driven by consumers’ demand for more sustainable financial products and increasing regulatory scrutiny. However, established financial institutions have been slow to react, creating a niche for impact fintechs - financial technology startups aiming to create sustainable change while making a profit. This thesis explores how impact fintechs manage challenges and opportunities arising from balancing economic and sustainability objectives. As the literature on sustainability-focused startups is still scarce, a qualitative multi-case study based on three case companies was conducted, further enriched by relevant expert interviews. Gaining a deep understanding of impact fintechs and their eco-system combined with theory from several streams of academic literature provided a comprehensive view on the emerging phenomenon. The findings suggest that impact fintechs manage tensions arising from economic and sustainability objectives by deeply intertwining them into the overarching goal of exerting socio-political influence on both the financial industry and society as a whole. Therefore, impact fintechs establish a purposedriven network of customers, investors, and commercial partners with the venture’s overall mission as its linchpin. Achieving such a network requires building close, trusting customer relationships, attracting forprofit investors and partners that support the sustainability angle, and embracing transparency. The originality of this thesis lies in connecting different theoretical lenses to explore the emerging phenomenon of impact fintechs and hypothesizing managerial as well as theoretical implications to contribute to the still fragmented findings of sustainability entrepreneurship research.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages127
SupervisorsLars Bo Jeppesen