Barclaycard’s international expansion plan

Michael Reed is MD of UK Acquiring and International Expansion within Cards & Payments at Barclays. Here he talks about how Barclaycard Payment Solutions is building on its foothold in the UK payments space to expand internationally.

There’s no doubt that the payments space is changing, and with pace. Technological advancements have given our clients a proliferation of choice in software and hardware that help them run smoothly.

Barclaycard Payment Solutions is the largest merchant acquirer in the UK and second in Europe, but building on that position means offering our customers and clients more than just a payments gateway. We’re doing that by investing in technology and building out our digital capability to offer value-add services that allow merchants to achieve their goal: a seamless journey for their own customers.

Partnering with fintechs

We’re embracing ways of working that might have seemed unthinkable five years ago. By doing this we’re able to give businesses, our clients, more choice.

From start-ups to tech giants, we’re partnering with others. These mutually beneficial relationships often mean pooling expertise or resource to offer customers more. For example, we’re currently working on a proof of concept with B2B online marketplace provider, Crowdz. This means integrating our payment gateway into their platform, digitising the supply chain and saving businesses a lot of time and money.

Contactless payments to seamless integration

Integrations like these give clients more opportunities to leverage our products using third party applications and services. We know there can be many touch points between the various solutions one business might use and we’re ensuring that the core technology we offer remains consistent and effective, after all, our payment platform is the backbone of the payments journey. But it’s the value-add services that have become crucial. Our challenge is how to join up our customers’ business decisions with our core services.

Harnessing big data

Harnessing data is a lynchpin of our strategy. We’re using our payments expertise to optimise how clients take payments and minimise false declines. We’re also building out our fraud detection capability using machine learning- more on this in 2019. Although we’re operating in a space that is seeing exponential change, our 328 years of financial expertise put us in a unique position of being both a disruptor in a tech-driven payments space whilst offering the sort of risk, control and governance capability that you can only get with a large-scale institution like Barclays.

More choice

Beyond that, we’re offering more choice by having a rounded business proposition. Whether that’s increasing the number cards types our merchants can take, offering flexibility in how they procure using our virtual payments platform, Precisionpay, or with our omnichannel payment platform, Smartpay. Our recent launch of Smartpay Hub gives merchants integrated business solutions, like accounting and inventory management in a mobile, out-of-the-box payments solution.

What’s clear to me is that we have the products and propositions to solve our clients’ pain points. As a business, we have a clear strategy for the future and excellent domain expertise in the UK, a strong track record and the ability to execute. It’s not very often you come into a company with such acumen in one space, but with the ambition and ability to grow, domestically and follow the customer internationally. We need a clear strategy, because the world is changing…

New types of consumer

Building out our offering never stops and it requires an insight into how the demands of consumers are changing. Whether this be increased demand for pay-as-you-go subscription services, more ways to pay or full omnichannel integration with third-party apps.

Many consumers also want flexible lending terms at point of sale. Perhaps they want smaller ticket items like TVs with a quick and hassle-free approval process. Building out our digital capability will allow us to do that.

Change is happening

The payments space is evolving. From fintechs to big finance, it’s challenging every business model. Competition is increasing and that’s good for consumers, customers and clients.

For businesses, the software service layer will continue to evolve as businesses demand more control and insight over how they run. Alternative payment methods will continue to become more relevant and, in general, the pace of change will accelerate as banks get a footing on how to deal with these complex interactions between payments and third party value-add services. There’s a real opportunity for us to connect those dots.

For those of us at the forefront, time is not our friend – we have to find a way to move in an agile way whilst upholding the risk framework that is important to us a bank. The market is moving faster than ever and to stay relevant, you have to find a way to move that bit faster too.

Our clients want to create seamless payment journeys for their customers. They want a one-stop shop offering fast bespoke solutions to solve their needs, where and in the way they want. We’re going to help them do that.