When a company that's spent 50 years supplying credit gets serious about digital, you can bet the implications are vast.
Barclaycard has a long history of innovation. It transformed the credit card into a mass-market industry in the late 1960s. In the 90s, it was the first online credit card company and the first to offer account information via mobile.
Today, Barclaycard's challenge is to reinvent itself for the new digital age. Contactless and mobile-payments, location-based services, digital wallets and even wearable technology are changing the way customers want to do business. In a disrupted and cluttered market, Barclaycard increasingly needs to compete with the Apples, Googles and PayPals of this world, all of who want a slice of their staggering £235bn annual payments business.
As Valerie Soranno Keating, CEO of Barclaycard, puts it: “We want to move the market, we try to do it first and use the advantages we have.” These include how innovatively Barclaycard provides its services to consumers and retailers, making it the “only financial institution in the UK that has both sides of the equation.” As a result, it's best placed to “actually create the tipping point” and make sure digital interactions become the norm in B2C finance. And that's where we came in.
From insightful introductions to pioneering proposals
We started in 2011, tasked with creating a multi-year roadmap that supported Barclaycard's digital transformation strategy, known internally as Digital By Default.
Barclaycard forecast that a shift into the digital space could reduce customer acquisition costs by £10m a year, while annual call centre and paper-based communication expenses could be slashed by £20m.
For a company of this magnitude – 36m customers,15,000 staff in 20 countries and a turnover of £4bn – the big question was how.
“ We're here to help with innovation”
Alex Eicke, Managing Partner
Thanks to invaluable insight gathered from numerous stakeholder interviews, we developed a range of innovative ideas and identified barriers to progress. The outcome was a series of detailed recommendations, covering everything from the company's social media presence to future IT infrastructure.
“We help discover the possibilities, shape the future and communicate benefits across the business”, Alex adds. ”This includes communicating upwards, so the teams we work with can get board-level buy in. When it comes back down the chain of command some concepts, developed primarily to provoke a reaction, actually end up becoming physical products.”
These include a proposal based around wearable technology, using the bPay mobile-payments platform we helped bring to market. As Alex puts it, the proof-of-concept projects we've undertaken are “a way of challenging them as a business and suggesting the way ahead for product development.”
Products for today, designed for the future
Our involvement in Barclaycard's mobile-payments strategy can be traced back to an Android app we designed to take advantage of NFC payment functionality in Samsung's S3 and S4 phones, which launched in 2012 and 2013.
Loyalty schemes have been another big area of focus for us. Today, 95% of British shoppers own a piece of plastic that entitles them to discounts and, very occasionally, makes them feel like members of a club. But most loyalty schemes have a big problem: customers sign up then forget about it.
Barclaycard's first rewards-based credit card suffered precisely this fate. But before announcing its withdrawal in May 2012, we were asked to work on a re-launch alongside their other partner agencies.
While unraveling this false start, we discovered that Barclaycard needed to strongly incentivise customers to sign up for the Freedom Rewards card - then use it. To succeed, we devised a concept for the Freedom Rewards Store that highlighted achievable, personalised goals. We also developed a strategy for consolidation, creating a single loyalty scheme that captured several offerings.
“We were interested in extending the platform to make it more of a club that would drive usage and raise awareness,” says Alex. “We wanted an environment customers might dwell in, where they could get advice as well as rewards.”
Offering end to end success
Our full proposal included a significant amount of work on underlying IT systems. “What we provided,” Alex adds, “was the look and feel for the experience, the roadmap for implementing it and the logic of how it's all based on the underlying architecture and infrastructure.”
“We work on the ideation process that an analogue brand needs to go through in order to become a digital brand. It's all about being able to develop new products in new ways. To do this, you bring new people in, and you engage with agencies in new ways. That's how Barclaycard are resetting their aspirations as a business.”
As can be seen, we've played a major role in the digital transformation of this iconic British brand - from strategy to concept and product development to maintenance. Digital technologies continue to open doors for new products, markets and levels of consumer engagement, and we're proud to be playing a pivotal role in Barclaycard's electronic evolution.
As Benedict Ireland, our Head of UX, puts it, “we're creating stimulus for change on behalf of a client with a history of innovating in a conservative industry”.
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