Virgin Money says profit margins have been boosted by higher interest rates

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Virgin Money said there were no signs of financial stress among customers as higher interest rates pushed up the lender’s profit margins.

The bank added that it had seen an increase in the number of customers opening new accounts, with particular growth in demand for credit cards.

It reported a 45% increase in personal and business accounts from a year ago and said 160,000 new credit cards had been opened in the three months to the end of June.

The firm said its margins were boosted by higher interest rates, with the company raising its net interest margin forecast for the full year.

However, continued competition in the mortgage market somewhat offset returns as buyers sought the best deal.

Unsecured lending rose 3.8% in the last quarter to £6bn, which the lender said was due to high quality credit card balances from new card sales and rising retail spending.

Meanwhile, business lending edged up 0.3% to a total of £8.3bn, despite lower government support for business lending and a softer market.

Virgin Money chief executive David Duffy said there were limited signs of credit problems among customers, but the company was ready to support people as a higher cost of living could cause affordability issues.

“Virgin Money had another positive quarter, financially and strategically,” he said.

“In an uncertain economic environment, while our asset quality remains resilient and clients are not yet showing signs of financial stress, we are supporting our clients and colleagues through what will be a more difficult time for many.”

Several banks said business had benefited from higher interest on customer loans so far this year.

Metro Bank posted record revenue growth in July, while Lloyds Banking Group raised its full-year profit outlook as it said higher interest rates were giving a boost to its profits.

The Bank of England has raised its key rate from 0.1% to 1.25% since last December in an attempt to limit the surge in inflation, and it is expected to raise it for the sixth consecutive time on Thursday.

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