Let’s go green. Rewarding sustainable behavior with Greentoken


OeNPAY and ABC Research have developed a concept for a token economy ecosystem that rewards carbon emissions cuts and supports climate friendly projects. The concept is set to be implemented via prototyping and tested further in cooperation with corporate partners.

Incentivizing individuals to change behavior

Greentoken (project name) is a special-purpose reward token. Special-purpose tokens provide an incentive for individuals to contribute to a collective goal by changing their behavior, e. g. reducing negative externalities on a collective good. At present, the Greentoken concept focuses on reducing carbon emissions from shopping as an example, but it can also be used for other sustainable causes.

The concept addresses four dimensions: Greentoken creates awareness of own behavior, provides an incentive for changing it, supports sustainable projects and encourages others to get involved, too.

Greentoken raises awareness of own behavior

At the heart of the concept is a smartphone app that determines, and allows users to clearly see, the carbon footprint of their shopping. The system is intended to work with several means of payments (debit or credit card, e-wallet etc.) for shopping in-store and online. This allows users to get to grips with the carbon footprint of their shopping habits. People need detailed information about the carbon footprint of what they buy so they can make informed decisions. 

Greentoken rewards positive behavior changes

Users who change their behavior for the better are rewarded with Greentokens. Specifically, they are rewarded for buying lower emissions products to reduce the carbon footprint of their day-to-day shopping. They can save the Greentokens collected this way in a digital wallet in the smartphone app.

Greentoken supports sustainable projects

Users can then donate these Greentokens to sustainable projects. Eligible projects have undergone a thorough vetting process and are certified to the highest standards. The users themselves decide which project they wish to donate to (focus on regional projects).

Greentoken encourages others to get involved

For their efforts and donations, users are awarded with digital badges (NFTs). By displaying these badges on social media, they invite others to join the good cause, too.

How token economy ecosystems work

Token systems are based on the blockchain technology. Put simply, blockchain is a special type of distributed database in which several independent users and network node operators jointly manage transactions in a tamper-proof manner.

Tokens are an extension of blockchain technology and form the basis for token-based applications. They can be created on a blockchain, which facilitates the development of token economy ecosystems – networks of relations in communities that pursue a common goal. Tokens can be conceptualized as containers of rights: They represent a right or authorization that the owner can exchange or use within a system. As tokens can be transferred, exchanged and programmed according to certain rules, they can be designed to suit different purposes.

In some respects, token economy ecosystems are fundamentally superior to traditional models.

  • Ease of use: Tokens make asset transactions within the ecosystem simple and efficient. Users benefit from uncomplicated access to the tokens’ functions.
  • Nudging user behavior: Reward tokens can help people change their habits by rewarding desired behaviors.
  • Fostering collaboration: Tokens are programmed to support the creation of social and economic organizations by fostering collaboration within the system.
  • Incentivizing early adoption: Tokens can be programmed to directly reward early adopters (e. g. by limiting supply).

The challenges ahead

In the next project phase, the Greentoken system will have to tackle two main challenges: correctly establishing the carbon footprint of new shopping habits and ensuring sustainable financing of the Greentoken system. Approaches to how to solve both challenges are already available and will be elaborated further during prototyping in cooperation with corporate partners.

Über ABC Research GmbH

The Austrian Blockchain Center (ABC) is a COMET competence center headquartered in Vienna. Its mission is to be Austria’s prime science hub for blockchain and related technologies. Blockchain technology facilitates the secure cooperation of different participants. It lends itself to a broad range of applications, from digital currencies to industry, finance, energy and logistics solutions to public services.
ABC is an interdisciplinary and application-oriented research institution dedicated to all aspects of blockchain research with a special focus on technological, commercial and legal issues. As one of Austria’s COMETs (Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies), ABC receives funding from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy and the provinces of Vienna, Lower Austria and Vorarlberg. The COMET program is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).

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