Starting the revolution in personal finance: Virgin enters retail banking

January 10, 2010

As if more evidence was necessary. The credit crisis. Obama’s office for the protection of the financial consumer. And now Virgin. According to the Financial Times, Richard Branson has bought a small regional bank in the UK for the license to operate a bank.

“Virgin Money aims to bring simplicity to the UK banking market which has traditionally been a complex sector.”

Personal finance may well be the next big thing in the study of finance and policy-making. As the credit crisis has made abundantly clear, financial consumers have no idea what they make, what they have in the bank and what they spend. And, more importantly, how much can they go into debt.

One can call that irrationality. But I’d much rather call that the logical consequence of the absence of good tools. Domestic accounting was easy with paper bills and check books. With the virtualization of the means of payment — from credit cards to online banking — keeping track is a lot more difficult.

Within the sociology of finance, interest in personal finance has been led by the work of Zuzsi Vharga and Joe Deville — both contributors to this blog. And many more issues remain: interface design, financial inclusion, the architecture of retail banking, etc.

3 Responses to “Starting the revolution in personal finance: Virgin enters retail banking”

  1. joedeville Says:

    Thanks for the mention Daniel. Yes, I wholly agree with you about the increasing difficulties of domestic accounting. It’s something I’m working on at the moment in fact – in particular looking at the role of, payment devices (e.g. credit cards) and devices that redisplay the value of transactions (e.g. statements, whether online or paper based). Once I’ve got something more worked through, I’ll put a post up here.

    I too will be very interested to watch what Virgin does. It should be noted that they’ve been a player in the UK credit card market for a while now and haven’t exactly transformed some of its opacities. Although they are one of the declining number of operators offering 0% balance transfers, enabling the practice of credit card hopping, which is accompanied by its own particular calculative challenges.


  2. […] original here: Starting the revolution in personal finance: Virgin enters retail … […]

  3. danielbeunza Says:

    Joe — very interesting. I too believe that “redisplay” (wonderful word!) is key to personl finance. Just the other day, in Manhattan, I was interested to see a new device at the Apple Store that transforms the iphone into a credit card swiping device. The receipt comes to you via email.

    Please keep me posted on your progress.


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