Mis 2301

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Chiashenng
Words 3414
Pages 14

May 2001, Volume 69, Number 3

Credit Card Revolutionary

In the conservative world of banking and finance, it takes a bold and passionate leader like Richard Fairbank, MBA ’81, to change an industry.
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO EXPLAIN a credit card to a child—why the supermarket will give you valuable items like Fruit Loops, Lunchables, and pudding cups, and all you do is swipe a piece of plastic through a machine? “It’s like, the bank gives the money to the store, then the bank sends me a bill, and ... well, it’s kinda complicated.”
If you think that’s tough, try to see your credit card the way Richard D. Fairbank does. To the founder and CEO of Capital One Financial Corp., that slab of plastic is the key to an information machine—a machine fueled by data on who you are, what sort of people you live among, whether you’ll carry a balance or avoid finance charges at all costs. This data machine may offer the closest thing ever invented to perpetual motion, because the more you use the card, the more data it produces. The machine takes your bytes, combines them with transactions by millions of other cardholders—and before long, it can pinpoint what you’re likely to buy next, whether you’ll respond to a pitch for long-distance telephone service, and how likely you are to sign up for Internet banking.
Fairbank, MBA ’81, built that data machine—and revolutionized the credit industry. Before Fairbank, all credit cards cost the same: 19.8% annual percentage rate, $20 fee. Before Fairbank, no one had ever heard of teaser rates, “superprime” cards charging just 9.9% interest, or credit cards printed with your kids’ pictures. Since Fairbank—to be precise, since October 1991 when he rolled out the first cards to break the plastic price barrier—credit cards have become hotly competitive, customized products with thousands of combinations of…...

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