The first airline to offer individual TVs to passengers. Tilting Pendolino trains to improve speed and safety. Commercial space travel. Virgin has a rich history of entering new markets and shaking things up a little, now it’s got banking in its sights.
Virgin, sometimes viewed as the consumer’s champion, has a track record of waking up the competition. Its strong company ethos on delivering quality and value for money for its customers challenges rivals to raise their game.
Never one to stay still, Virgin is entering the world of retail banking. Through its purchase of Northern Rock the company is expanding its Virgin Money brand, giving it a presence in the high street, especially in the north east.
As can be seen by the TV commercial, the launch of Virgin Money aims to draw on this heritage and promises to change the shape of banking for better.
But will Virgin succeed?
They propose to charge customers £60 a year for current accounts, a move going down like a lead balloon among a public with an already cynical view of the banking sector.
Nevertheless, if the new Virgin Money stores are anything to go by, banks could very well become more comfortable, relaxing and welcoming places, with people to greet you rather than the host of self-service machines and telephones you find in a branch of HSBC.
However, Virgin will need to challenge the established banks – becoming the most transparent bank, explaining clearly the rationale for its charges, being exciting and innovative, and aligning itself with the concerns of consumers.
Right on the money? You can bet Virgin will make banking better.