Business

Credit cards – Insignia or the world of luxury cards

Insignia – who? Some of you probably thought so when the soccer club Austria Wien presented its savior in need a week ago. Insignia agreed to financially bail out the “violets” and to secure their Bundesliga license.

And that costs a lot: Austria’s most recent annual report showed liabilities of 78 million euros. In the 2019/20 season alone, the favorites wrote a loss of 18.8 million euros. Surprisingly, however, Insignia does not want to participate in FK Austria Wien AG itself, but only in a joint marketing company.

From business with luxury

But where do the millions come from who are so generously invested in Vienna’s Austria? Insignia describes itself as a “luxury advisory service” and defines its goal on its website as “becoming the global leader in lifestyle management and financial services for very wealthy individuals”.

Such wealthy clients are known in the banking sector with the abbreviation UHNWI (Ultra High Net Worth Individuals). These are individuals with net worth over $ 30 million. And it is with this exclusive circle that Insignia runs its business, which goes far beyond the usual credit card-related services and for which you can only become a customer on recommendation.

In fact, Insignia is not a company, but a group of companies that offers credit cards for ultra-rich customers – including the appropriate “lifestyle management”, ie travel and shopping in the luxury segment, as well as support from a team of personal assistants that is always available. Company locations are Valletta on the island of Malta, Dubai and Bratislava. It also has offices in London, Moscow and New York.

Exclusive card games

The group is owned by Michael Surguladze, a Georgian who was the sole agent for American Express in Russia for seven years in the mid-1990s. Even then, the company specialized in wealthy, travel-loving Eastern Europeans as customers. In the years that followed, the business with ultra-rich travelers was refined and gradually expanded worldwide.

From 2001 onwards, Insignia launched internationally in the luxury credit card segment with the help of banking partners in order to be able to offer tailor-made cards, from the Elite Card to the Royal Card to the Glamor Card.

In 2011, Insignia Cards Limited was founded in Malta, a payment service provider that acquired a license from the Maltese tax authorities in 2012. This gave Insignia full control over the card services and was able to further develop its card business without a banking partner. Insignia Lifestyle Management Europe in Slovakia and Insignia IGS Management Services in Dubai were founded in order to implement the premium care offer for the almost unlimited fulfillment of wishes of the ultra-rich. In Slovakia, European luxury demands are at the center of business activity, while Dubai has specialized in those of the Arab region. The outward expression of the almost unlimited luxury that is guaranteed here is the Jewelery Card, a super-premium credit card decorated with 14-carat gold and precious stones.

In addition, years ago Insignia determined the high level of interest among its clientele in sporting events, especially in European football. Incidentally, they were already a sponsor of the Maltese football club Valletta FC, but according to their own information they dropped out again. Now they have just got involved in Vienna.

Premium in the pandemic

And how is the Insignia business going in Corona times? At the request of the “Wiener Zeitung”, Marketing Director Youlia Nagaytseva said that, like everyone else in the travel segment, the crisis had hit you. Due to the “extremely loyal customers”, however, the card business remained stable. “Our personal assistants did a lot of help during the pandemic, evacuating family members at the last minute before borders were closed,” she says. Organizing weddings in the “heat of a global crisis” is no problem for the Insignia assistants. A whole wedding party is flown to corona-free areas so that the dream can come true.

And what’s next in Austria? Not only that Vienna Austria should of course at least make it into the Champions League. According to Nagaytseva, they are thinking about opening an office in Austria “in the near future”. But there are so many other “exciting projects” that she couldn’t say more.

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