Japanese bank raises ‘interest’ over global warming

KUMAMOTO, Japan, Aug 27, 2006 (AFP) – A Japanese bank is doing its bit to raise interest over global warming, in more ways than one. The Kumamoto Family Bank on the southern island of Kyushu has taken eco-consciousness to a new level by basing its interest rate on the average temperature, giving customers a reason to care about a cool summer.

The “Cool Breeze Fixed Deposit” account offers an interest rate of 0.25 percent if the average August temperature in the city turns out to be more than 28.3 degrees Celsius (83 degrees Fahrenheit), the same as last year.

The rate will go up to 0.4 percent if the average temperature is any lower.

When the bank released the product on time deposits in June, Japan was still following the unorthodox policy of zero interest rates, aimed at fighting deflation and encouraging economic growth.

The Bank of Japan ended five years of zero rates in July, raising the benchmark borrowing rate to 0.25 percent — the same as the “cool breeze” rate if Kumamoto has a hot summer.

“We created this product based on the idea of providing an opportunity to think about global warming,” says Yasunori