Blog article
See all stories »

Virgin ditches green card for no card

According to Marketing Week, Virgin Money is shelving plans for a biodegradable card.

The firm seems to have decided that if there's one thing greener than a green card it's no card at all, so they're going to concentrate on mobile payments instead.

I’m sure at least one regular Finextra blogger will applaud the decision.


Comments: (4)

Steve Ellis
Steve Ellis - Finextra Research - London 17 June, 2008, 09:18Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


Personally, I've always struggled to reconcile Virgin's green PR, with its ambitions to popularize space travel. I'm no rocket scientist but that's a lot of carbon offsetting.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 17 June, 2008, 15:52Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Of course I'd be more than happy to help save the planet by reducing virgin's carbon footprint. They have some smart people if they are going mobile but it's a no brainer with their brand. Will they pick the winning solution?

Those of you feeling guilty about all that jet travel, there are slower more efficient ways to travel and I've even seen a practical little solar electric flyer which may appease the green movement. It isn't very fast but is designed to join together and form larger craft to fly the jetstream 'locked' in formation, leaving all but a couple of pilots to relax. When you get to your destination you just detach, peel off and land, remove the wing structure and drive the cabin from the airport to your destination.  It's short take-off and landing (50 meters) capability means all you'd need is a vacant block or two as an airport and the lack of noisemaking means in-city airfields are on the cards. It may be slower than a jet but it'll be a lot less costly all round. It should arrive on the market just in time to re-popularise those weekend retreats which get further away every time the petrol price goes up. Apparently the design means pretty well any landing or even deliberate crash should be non-fatal. I'm up for it.

Until then I'm happy to fly to virgin's aid in a jet if someone else is paying for the gas.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 June, 2008, 11:56Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I note that Virgin Money don't actually own their card brand, ie. it is rented out to others in some markets. Does this influence their actions? For instance I can see how Westpac would have baulked at the biodegradable card thing. Does that make it harder to have a single brand image? Surely a committee of licensees is harder to manage than a board when it comes to brand management. It's hard to keep the 'cool' factor going with too many suits in the picture.

Having originally considered licensing our technology to others, we realised that it would be a major issue trying to keep the service consistent across multiple providers. Not to discount the other advice we had that suggested it would be virtually impossible to collect per transaction based fees if we did. I assume that's why Virgin went for an up front fixed price deal on licensing. I do see an opportunity to go mobile were they still operate the brand and it just might give them a bit more leverage when the time comes to renegotiate those licensing deals with banks such as Westpac. 

Of course any limited or too ordinary mobile money system won't really differentiate their brand, so it makes no sense to invest too much in a vanilla flavoured solution. 

Matt White
Matt White - Finextra - Toronto 18 June, 2008, 13:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Interesting point.

Virgin came across some scepticism when it announced the card, with some suggesting it was a rushed attempt to combat Barclaycard’s Breathe offering.

Is it cynical to suggest Virgin might have failed to think it through and consult everyone affected? Is it now attempting to gloss over a climb down by making noises on mobile payments?

Matt White

Matt White

North America editor


Member since

27 Nov 2006



Blog posts




This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Going green

Assessing the carbon footprint of fintech and looking to the future.

See all

Now hiring