Banking

Virgin Money Australia claims to “break new ground” with loyalty scheme

Virgin Money Australia has launched a new loyalty programme it claims will “break new ground” by aiming to cover the entire banking experience.

With the help of Singapore-based fintech start-up Ascenda, the Australian unit’s new rewards scheme now includes customers’ card spend, transactions, and savings accounts.

There is clear disruption already happening in the rewards space

“Home loans and other banking products will be added over time,” the digital bank says in a statement.

Virgin Money argues the new product introduces a fresh opportunity for challenger banks globally.  That is, to grow revenue and market share by differentiating beyond low fees and easy user experience.

Rewards market

Plenty of digital banking challengers include rewards-based offerings, which are continuing to take new and differentiating forms.

For example, US fintech Sincere, a fintech start-up focused on pet parents, intends to offer rewards around pet purchases.

Incumbents are also evolving in the space. In February, ING incorporated DealWise – a stand-alone app gathering cashback deals of up to 15% and discounts – into its banking app for German customers.

There’s been mergers and acquisitions in the rewards sector too. In January, Boston-based fintech PAYMYNT Financial bought crypto e-wallet LettucePay.

The deal is intended to help PAYMYNT launch its shopping rewards platform. Users of the rewards platform will eventually be able to invest their shopping rewards as stocks, mutual funds, and crypto.

Despite clear disruption already happening in the space, Ascenda’s CEO Kyle Armstrong says Virgin Money’s “holistic bank rewards programme […] sets a new benchmark” for customer engagement.

UK operations

In the UK, Virgin Money is the sixth largest lender. In November, its UK arm announced a statutory loss after tax of £141 million due to its half a billion-pound worth bad loan charge.

To date, it has accumulated around 6.6 million customers across the UK. The bank structures its services around personal accounts, mortgages and business accounts.

In July, Virgin Money UK launched a four-week beta trial of its new app, Home Buying Coach. The app targets what the firm calls “Generation Rent”.

Part of Virgin Money’s wider digital transformation strategy, the app offers users “expert insights”. As well as personalised plans geared towards their first home purchase.

“Looking into 2021, we are well underway in rolling out our full suite of Virgin Money [digital] products and services across personal and business,” David Duffy, Virgin Money’s CEO, said in November.

Read next: Virgin Money profits dive 77% as it braces for bad loans


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