San Francisco, January 23, 2023: The environmental, social and governance (ESG) landscape has gone mainstream in the point-of-sale (POS) terminal industry. Robust digital payment technologies have potentially removed or reduced paperwork and bureaucracy and minimized the need for cash. Predominantly, automated payment processes are fostering corporate work, while retailers have exhibited an increased inclination for POS terminals as sustainability factors garner traction among shareholders, investors, customers and other stakeholders. Payment companies have furthered their traction for ESG pillars to propel social credibility, enhance brand position and place social goals on top of the agenda.
The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the normal circulation of coins and spurred the penetration of debit/credit card payments. The raw materials (chemicals made from petroleum) process emit GHG emissions, while the magnetic strips and smart card chips could augment the environmental costs. An uptick in cashless payments, along with the growth of mobile payments, has furthered the use of POS equipment. Besides, the generation of e-waste has expedited the need for robust governance and environmentally friendly strategies to provide a lasting impact on security, comfort and the environment.
An unprecedented rise in waste from scrapped cards has prompted stakeholders to seek environmental principles to underscore a sustainability portfolio. Furthermore, carbon emissions from energy used to manufacture the cards have augmented the GHG. Industry leaders have vouched for digital wallets that may offset the environmental impact of debit and credit cards. According to a France-based merchant services technology company Ingenico, there are around 110 million terminals installed globally. The growth trajectory alludes to an increased focus on the environmental performance. The company has introduced eco-design of payment terminals to develop, design and provide products that are environmentally friendly. The service company has augmented R&D efforts to optimize terminals’ energy efficiency, minimize logistics’ carbon footprint, integrate sustainable procurement into the supply, eliminate toxic substances and reduce the raw material used.
Industry participants have sought carbon balancing to engage in proper e-waste management, foster an emission reduction strategy and offset the residual carbon footprint. For instance, in March 2022, Toshiba collected around 907 Kg of e-waste for recycling. It revised Response to Climate Change in Environmental Future Vision 2050 to attain carbon neutrality throughout the value chain. The company inferred in its Sustainability Report 2021 that it would inject funds into energy-saving equipment, bolster procurement of energy from renewable sources, bring renewable energy equipment to the fore and emphasize products and services that reduce GHG emissions.
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Retailers, investors, manufacturers and other stakeholders have prioritized sustainability portfolio to unlock new opportunities to reach out to customers. According to the EU Eco-design directive, 90% of manufacturing costs and 80% of environmental pollution are due to the decisions taken at the production design. The use of recyclable and recycled raw materials could prove to be instrumental to add impetus to the environmental profile. For instance, Panasonic Corporation has minimized the waste generation by fostering the recycling rate of waste materials. Besides, HP exhibited the lowest emission and energy consumption rate in 2020 and aims for zero waste in operation by 2025.
A robust ESG proposition could provide a win-win scenario as distributors, retailers and other stakeholders engage investors on their social performance. Social factors, including gender diversity, social trends, labor relations and inclusion, are expected to usher in innovations and growth through greater credibility. Bullish initiatives, including defining gender and racial representation and social-responsibility audits, will hold prominence, driving the business and benefiting shareholders and stakeholders. On the social pillar, Toshiba Corporation ranked supreme with approximately 90% score. In its Sustainability Report 2021, the Japanese conglomerate contemplated boosting the number of human rights awareness participants by 10% in the country from the preceding FY level. The multinational company has established a whistleblower system for employees—Toshiba Hotline—it received 129 cases in FY2020. Furthermore, in December 2020, the company rolled out the Chameleons Club with channels, such as LGBT+ Allies, to underscore and reinforce inclusion and deepen bonds among employees.
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Amidst companies gearing to encourage employees to feel fulfillment and pride in their work and harness technology, high turnover rates have sparked concerns among stakeholders. According to the Samsung Electronics Sustainability Report 2022, the overseas turnover rate was pegged at 15.7% in 2021, while it stood at 2.4% in Korea. However, it has robust labor and human rights framework with strong anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. The company provided specialized online training for 91% of staff members in jobs with increased human rights risks. Besides, it has around 32 labor unions and 40 Work Councils to enhance communication with employee representative bodies. In a bid to reflect the thoughts of youth in business activities, Samsung formed the Gen Z and Millennial Board to enable the younger generation to share their views on customer trends, products and trending topics on social sites.
Stakeholders are gearing to provide impetus to sustainability governance through transparent functioning, improved management efficiency, independence and expertise of the board, business ethics, and optimal internal controls. In the thematic report, Grand View Research’s ESG scoring model notes that HP was at the helm with respect to corporate governance. The HPE board comprised 12 directors with vast knowledge, skills and expertise, with eleven working as independent directors (as of FY 2021). Moreover, around 50% of board members were identified with one of the more diverse groups. HPE’s board committee of ESG includes an audit committee; human resources and compensation committee; a finance and investment committee; and nominating, governance, and social responsibility committee. Predominantly, the company has established an enterprise risk management (ERM) program overseen by the CFO and underpinned by HPE Executive Risk Council.
Ethical decision-making has gained ground to add fillip to business practices and encourage customers, employees, suppliers and stakeholders to voice concerns pertaining to business conduct. HPE asserts that ethics allegations and inquiries witnessed a 31% reduction in 2021 from 2019. Meanwhile, Cisco alludes to 1190 inquiries—53% of those related to conflict of interest disclosure, 28% questions and 19% allegations of misconduct—made to the Ethics office in 2021. The executive Leadership Team of Cisco recorded videos elucidating the significance of ethics and compliance to the company and shared real-life examples of violations observed within the organization during the same year.
Disclosure of corporate information can steward companies’ approach to ESG performance through transparency. In April 2022, Panasonic Group adopted an operating company system to boost Group management, secure management and improve corporate value. It has formed the Audit & Supervisory Board to foster the effectiveness of audit activities, assess and decide countermeasures and propel cooperation with the Internal Audit Department. Additionally, Panasonic has formed disclosure control procedures to adhere to laws and ordinances in Japan and overseas, to implement the accurate, fair and timely disclosure of information and comply with the rules of financial instruments exchanges.
As stakeholders strive to bridge the gaps of the growing ecosystem and use advanced technology, the uptake in the point of sale applications could underpin the sustainability portfolio, leveraging them to count on the foundation of robust corporate governance and accountability.
Incumbent companies are responding to the unwavering popularity and significance of ESG goals to stay ahead of the curve. ESG programs on the global scale have become prevalent and frontrunner to bolster brand position in the long run. In August 2022, Toshiba Tec expressed contemplation in developing point of a sale software platform for U.S. retailers. The subsidiary of Toshiba is gearing to augment the number of employees by more than two-fold in the new Dallas hub by 2025. It is expected to have more than 30 software engineers in the U.S. hub by March-end 2023. The prevailing trends suggest exponential growth in digital payments could serve as a catalyst for the business strategies surrounding POS equipment. The global POS terminals market size stood at USD 85.16 billion in 2021 and could witness around 8.5% CAGR from 2022 through 2030. A notable shift towards a strong ESG proposition has become pronounced among financial stakeholders, investors, and companies that could exhibit potential growth opportunities emanating from ESG activities.
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