Virgin Money drops green card for mobile payments

Virgin Money has shelved plans for a biodegradable credit card in favour of “greener” systems, such as payment over mobile phones.

The financial services company says the green card, which was announced in April last year (MW April 26, 2007), is unlikely to launch soon. Instead, it is focusing on opportunities such as launching a “virtual” card on mobile phones. It is thought to be in talks with sister company Virgin Mobile, part of Virgin Media, over trialling such a system.

Rival Barclaycard has already carried out a UK trial with mobile operator O2, and is understood to be plotting a full UK and international launch with a number of operators by the end of 2009. Barclaycard launched an ethical credit card product, named Breathe, last year (MW April 19, 2007).

Barclaycard head of advertising and promotions Paul Troy says mobile as an advertising medium and potential payment system is of “increasing” importance to the Barclays-owned card company. Barclaycard premiered its £6m ad campaign over mobile last week (MW.co.uk, June 5).

At the time, Virgin announced the biodegradable card – which was expected to launch in green rather than Virgin’s trademark red – a Virgin Money spokesman said it was important not to “just pay lip service” to the environment.

Earlier this year, the financial services company launched a Virgin Climate Change Fund and ISA.

Contactless payments, using MasterCard’s PayPass or Visa PayWave systems, have already launched in London, but using conventional cards. They allow users to “swipe and pay”, in a similar way to Transport for London’s Oyster card system.

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