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About PayBonsai

  • Founders: Peter Op De Beeck
  • Founded in: 2016
  • Employees: 20
  • Money raised: 8 million euros
  • Ultimate goal: To become a European payment app with the aim of having a major ecological impact.

The Belgian payment app Paybonsai is a payment app unlike any other. In fact, as a consumer, you can do your bit to help the climate by using this app. Paybonsai plants a tree for every ten payments you make with it. For this instalment of start-up of the day, we spoke with Jelle Baats. He joined the company in 2019 and is now setting the company’s course as its CEO.

What do you do exactly?

“We are an official payment institution that is recognized by the National Bank of Belgium. When we entered the market in 2019, under no circumstances did we want to be just another payment app. We stand out from the other payment apps because we plant one tree in Madagascar for every ten transactions. The use of the app is free for consumers. We plant trees out of the transaction fees paid by the trader. By doing this, we want to make consumers more aware of the importance of sustainability.”

Do you plant the trees yourselves?

“We don’t do that ourselves. To do that, we partnered up with Eden Reforestation Projects, one of the most cost-effective reforestation projects on the planet. In fact, 10 percent of our sales actually go into that. With that money, mangrove trees are being planted in Madagascar, a country where 90 percent of the primary forests have been destroyed.  This is how we rebuild an ecosystem there. It also provides work for the local population who earn a fair wage and can get out of extreme poverty this way.”

Have you planted a lot of trees so far?

“So far, we have already planted 230,000 trees. Our mission is to plant 20 million trees between now and the next 2 ½ years. Right now, we have over 100,000 users, a small group of whom are already extremely active users. We have seen our group of users grow very sharply in recent months and are well on our way to achieving our mission by 2025.”

Are you really going to make an impact this way?

“Climate change is not something you solve just by planting trees. A single person planting a few dozen or even hundreds of trees each year won’t make much difference. But if everyone does their bit, and we add up every single little thing, you can make a real impact. That is the strength of our payment app. A small change of habit that can have a huge impact. Paybonsai is active in the fintech industry. We link everyday payments to climate change solutions. I am delighted that more and more companies are also becoming actively committed to sustainable solutions. Every industry can and should shoulder its own responsibility.”

Will you limit yourselves to trees?

“No, we want to support a lot more other initiatives later on. If we reach lots of people, we can make some serious changes in terms of mindset.”

How do you plan to develop the payment app further?

“We work with our team every day to improve and expand the functionalities of our app further.  As far as ease of payment is concerned, we now have integration with Apple Pay and Google Pay. In the future, we also want to link the purchase of meal vouchers and train tickets to it. Besides that, we are also looking at how we can make payments easier for everyone, such as the automatic scanning of invoices.”

Do you also have any international plans?

”Yes, definitely. By the end of 2023, we want to take our first steps into other countries. The Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Germany are already on our wish list.”