Barclaycard

Headquarters: 
United Kingdom

While contactless retail payment in the UK has been slow to take off, don’t blame Barclaycard or its parent Barclays PLC.

The UK’s largest credit-card issuer, Barclaycard has carried the British rollout on its shoulders since it spearheaded the London launch in September 2007 with its dual application OnePulse card. The issuer has since added a contactless interface to more and more of its card portfolio, and two years after the launch had an estimated 2 million contactless credit cards in circulation.

That is well above such competitors as the Royal Bank of Scotland. And it has backed up the millions of pounds it has spent on infrastructure with millions of pounds more worth of advertising and other promotion.

Parent Barclays announced in January 2009 it would begin converting most of its base of debit cards to contactless and predicted it would have more than 3 million of the cards in circulation by the end of the year. Although, by October 2009, the bank indicated it had issued only over 1 million contactless debit cards. As of February 2010, Baclaycard and Barclays had issued over 6 million contactless cards, said the bank.

And Barclaycard has signaled a clear intent to take a lead in the rollout of NFC mobile payment. In March 2009, the issuer announced a partnership with mobile operator Orange UK to launch NFC services. That followed a widely quoted, if quixotic, prediction by Barclaycard CEO Andrew Jenkins in September 2009 that cards would become as obsolete as checks in five or 10 years. The partners in January 2010 launched a contactless credit card, with mobile alerts.

Barclaycard in January 2011 announced with UK telco Everything Everywhere, which is a joint venture between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, that they plan to launch NFC-based mobile payment by early summer. Barclaycard earlier participated in a well-publicized NFC trial launched in Nov. 2007 led by operator O2 and involving Transport for London.

Key figures: 
Card Count  Cards
Total credit and debit cards  25
Contactless cards (May 2011)  11.6
Contactless cards (Feb. 2010)
 6
In millions. Contactless takes in Barclaycard credit and Barclays debit cards.
Key NFC Personnel: 
Tom Gregory, head of digital payments
James McDonald, head of strategic innovation
Major NFC and Contactless competitors: 

Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC

Last Updated: 
May 2011
Author: 
Balaban

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