Virgin Money officially launched in the US recently with its acquisition of Massachusetts-based Circle Lending. In the UK, Virgin Money started operations in 1995 as Virgin Direct, and offers a variety of financial services: credit and debit cards, loans, mortgages, insurance, savings accounts, and pension plans. The company also has operations in Australia and South Africa.
Its US operation, however, is a bit different. Circle Lending, which was started in 2002 by Asheesh Advani, made a name for itself by helping to structure and facilitate loans between an individual and his/her family and friends. The concept is simple – a borrower signs onto Virgin Money US to initiate a loan, specifies the desired terms, and then reaches out to specific people from whom to borrow money. Virgin Money US handles all the “dirty work” such as loan documents, payment process, reminders, and financial statements. Borrowers and lenders get better deals than through traditional banks, and everyone is happy. The operation is similar to Zopa, in that it facilitates P2P (peer-to-peer) lending, though its not clear that Virgin performs credit checks since the aim is to keep loans “all in the family.”
Either way, its great to see that Circle Lending will be able to grow and expand with the help of Richard Branson and the Virgin Empire. Virgin Money US plans to expand operations beyond “circle lending” in the upcoming months, so stay tuned. In the mean time, learn more at Virgin Money US.