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Barclaycard is a global credit card and loan provider owned by Barclays plc in the UKmarker. The Barclaycard was the first credit card introduced in the UK, coming into service in 1966. It enjoyed a monopoly until the introduction of the Access card in 1972.

Barclaycard later became part of the VISA network. Nowadays, Barclays offers both MasterCard and VISA versions. Barclaycard claims it is Europe's leading issuer of credit cards with 11 million in circulation. Barclaycard's main offices are in Northamptonmarker, along with several floors at Barclays' corporate HQ, One Churchill Placemarker in Canary Wharfmarker, Londonmarker.

Barclaycard was also the main sponsor of the FA Premier League (from 2001–2004) until Barclays itself took over at the start of the 2004-2005 season.

Barclaycard UK

Barclaycard has 19.2 million customers in the UK, issuing one in five UK credit cards. It is currently the leading UK credit card issuer.

It is based at 1234 Pavilion Drive in Northampton in a specially designed building where it employs approximately 3000 people. It is one of the main employers in Northamptonmarker.

Barclays were the only major British clearing bank not to issue cheque guarantee cards, instead allowing its customers to guarantee cheques with their Barclaycard (on the basis that if a customer was creditworthy for a Barclaycard they were also good for issuing cheques). This practice ended in 1985 with the introduction of relaxed lending rules and the introduction of the debit card Barclays Connect.

History of Barclaycard UK

  • 1966 — Barclaycard, the UK's first credit card, is launched
  • 1977 — Barclaycard Business is introduced; Barclaycard becomes a founder member of the international VISA system
  • 1982 — Barclays Premier Card introduced
  • 1986 — Barclaycard launches first loyalty scheme
  • 1990 — Barclaycard MasterCard launched
  • 1995 — Barclaycard launches Barclaycard Gold and Barclaycard Sense cards; Barclaycard is the first credit card company to go onto the Internet with Barclaycard Netlink
  • 1997 — Barclaycard is the first UK credit company to allow bills to be paid over the Internet
  • 1999 — Barclaycard launches Platinum card
  • 2001 — Barclaycard announces three-year sponsorship of FA Premiership; Barclaycard sponsors the Young People's Trust for the Environment, designed to promote environmental education to UK school children
  • 2007 — Barclaycard launches 3 new products to its range of credit cards: Barclaycard OnePulse, Barclaycard Football, and Barclaycard Breathe
  • 2008 — Barclaycard purchases Goldfish, Discover Financial Services' UK credit card division, for $70 million, gaining 1.7 million customers and $3.9 billion in receivables


The Barclaycard commercials

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Rowan Atkinson starred in a series of Barclaycard adverts. The first advert involved Atkinson's character, spy Richard Latham, entering HQ to be told about his next mission. He is given a Barclaycard. The advert ends with Richard coming out of a sentry box with an oblivious sentry guard.

In the adverts following, Richard is accompanied by a protegé called Bough. Bough is the person who approves of Barclaycard and tells Richard of its benefits, much to Richard's disagreement. In the adverts, Richard burns the end of a rug, breaks a vase for a wedding present (and disturbs the photo of the wedding), and, in one particularly well-known advert, confuses a head honcho from MI5 for a plumber at a crime scene.

The other well-known thing about the advert is the theme tune. This advert was the basis for the film Johnny English, which also starred Rowan Atkinson (the name of his character was changed from Richard Latham to Johnny English).

In Autumn 2008 to promote contactless payment technology and a change in branding, Barclaycard released a campaign featuring a fantasy water slide. Conceived by creative agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty and shot in São Paulomarker, the TV advert feature a man (played by Robert Wilfort) leaving work via a slide and passing various contactless payment sites on his way home. The TV advert was directed by Peter Thwaites and set to The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow", which, due to the resultant popularity, re-entered the UK Singles Chart and peaked at No. 21.

Barclaycard International

Barclaycard operates in over 60 countries and has circa 1 million customers outside the UK. Barclaycard International claims that to date 1.8 million cards have been issued and that over 35,000 transactions are processed daily.

History of Barclaycard International

  • 1991 — Launch in Germany
  • 1997 — Dollar Card launch
  • 1998 — Launch in France
  • 1999 — Launch in Spain and Greece
  • 2001 — Barclaycard launches in Botswana
  • 2002 — Barclaycard launched in Italy
  • 2003 — A collaborative credit card agreement with Standard Bank in South Africa is launched
  • 2004 — Ireland, Portugal and Egypt Launch; Acquires US credit card issuer Juniper Financial Corporation
  • 2007 - Irish portfolio sold to Bank of Scotland
  • 2007 — Launch in India and Dubai


Providian

In 2002 Barclaycard took over the UKmarker wing of the American Company Providian National Bank when it was sold off due to financial irregularities of its American parent company. Providian's former base in Crawleymarker (West Sussex) is now fully part of the Barclaycard group, mainly catering for the very lower end of the credit card market. This targeting of the less affluent has created a lot of controversy as invariably the people targeted have existing financial problems.

Other Elements of Barclaycard

In addition to Barclaycard UK and Barclaycard International, there is also Barclaycard Payment Acceptance (Merchant Acquiring) and Barclaycard Commercial (Corporate Issuing and Partnership Issuing). Until November 2008, Barclaycard Payment Acceptance was known as Barclaycard Business, previous to which it was known as Barclaycard Merchant Services (BMS). As a Merchant Acquirer, it enjoys around 38% of the UK Acquiring Business and offers a number of channels including internet payments (ePDQ) and small merchant bank-owned terminals (PDQ Terminals) normally provided by Ingenico (formally Fortronic).

It now teamed up with London's Transport for London to combine a credit card with an Oyster card - called OnePulse. This new card was launched in the autumn of 2007.

Previous Sponsorship

Barclaycard replaced Carling as sponsors of England'smarker Premier League in 2001, an association which lasted three years before Barclays took over.

See also



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