Time to Get Spaced Out

23 January 08

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And in other space travel news: Virgin Galactic has just released its final designs for the vehicle that will take ordinary customers like you and me quite literally beyond the stratosphere.

The company plans to launch scheduled space flights in 2010, and will carry 8 passengers at a time. Virgin says that more than 200 people have already booked their tickets, and an impressive 85,000 have expressed an interest in taking this leap into space. CEO Richard Branson unveiled the designs today in New York at the American Museum of Natural History.

This inarguably represents the biggest leap in aviation history since the Sputnik. Space travel isn’t the stuff of wild dreams anymore – it is now a very real possibility.

Check out the article on the BBC here.

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Changing the Face of Money

3 January 08

virgin money 02Virgin 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.

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