Virgin Money could offer personal loans down under

Virgin Money may be about to branch out into the Australian personal loans market as it looks to increase its presence in the country.

The financial services arm of Richard Branson's corporate giant is in the middle of "some really interesting discussions" over how to bring more products to the Australian public, co-chief executive of the Virgin Group David Baxby said in an interview with Australian Business.

There are few markets left unturned by Virgin, as the firm already operates an international airline, mobile phone network, wine club and gym business.

Virgin Money has been active in Australia for some time but Mr Baxby said it is now looking into "expanding beyond credit cards".

Mortgages, insurance and superannuation are among the other products the company hopes to launch and Mr Baxby explained Virgin Money is seeking new partners to help it increase its Australian presence.

"There are some real opportunities in the general banking market in Australia with the level of caution that has been shown by some of the competitors," he remarked.

Now looks like a good time for Virgin Money to move into the personal loans market, as figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate demand for the products is growing. Between March and April 2012, the number of people who successfully applied for fixed financial packages rose by 0.6 per cent.

Plans to branch out into the mortgage and loan markets are not new, but the last time Virgin attempted to do so – through a deal with Macquarie Bank – the proposals were put on hold due to the global financial meltdown.

The company launched in Australia in 2003, but ceased operations five years later when a deal with Westpac ended. It returned in 2010 after signing a ten-year partnership with Citibank, that sees it offer credit cards and online banking, an arrangement Mr Baxby said will "continue to be an incredibly important part of the business".

Have a question about personal loans? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.ADNFCR-1761-ID-801408226-ADNFCR