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.