Barclaycard has joined the growing number of UK big named corporates connecting to the Internet via PIPEX and becomes the first credit card company to offer services via the Internet.
Among the range of services on offer immediately is Barclaycard Netlink, an interactive electronic magazine, as well as on-line information on all Barclaycard offers and services.
From today, Internet users will also be able to request a Barclaycard application form simply by using e-mail.
Later this year, Barclaycard customers will be able to contact customer services on-line to exchange Barclaycard Profiles points for gifts and to make enquiries about their account from a customer services representative.
Although Barclaycard is not currently planning to offer payment services via the Internet, it says it will do so as soon as a secure method of electronic payment is available.
Commenting on this, PIPEX’s Managing Director, Peter Dawe said: PIPEX will be the first UK Internet provider to implement a secure method of electronic cash on the Internet and in particular secure credit card authentication mechanisms..."
PIPEX will be launching such a service in the very near future.
Dawe also pointed out that Internet commerce is already more than just a good idea, and referred to a recent report by US analysts Killen & Associates, which predicts that money transmission via the Internet will expand to over £330 billion by 2005.
Barclaycard is the latest major corporate to sign up with PIPEX.
Other companies which PIPEX has recently introduced to the commercial benefits of the Internet, include Ernst & Young, EuroDollar and the BBC.
Barclaycard is the first UK credit card to offer services on the Internet.
Commenting on the huge growth in commercial Internet use, Dawe added: "Many companies are already profiting from doing business on the Internet. But the arrival of another household name like Barclaycard should shock the more conservative marketing departments into the realisation that if they don’t talk to us soon, many of their customers won t be talking to them.”
A special Talkback facility has been incorporated to enable users to comment on Barclaycard services and Netlink information, as well as make suggestions for improvements and developments.
An on-line competition on Barclaycard Netlink is offering £3750 worth of prizes, which winners can spend on Internet-related hardware, software or peripherals. Internet users will also be able to see Rowan Atkinson promoting Barclaycard Netlink in stills from the popular TV commercials.
The system which is available for Internet users to access is totally separate from Barclaycard’s computer network which contains confidential account information, preventing unauthorised access to customer records. Barclaycard, launched in 1966, has nine million cards in issue and employs over 5,000 people at three locations around the country and its Northampton HQ.
It is accepted at over 400,000 establishments in the UK and more than ten million worldwide. PIPEX company background PIPEX (Public IP Exchange Ltd), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unipalm Group plc, offers connection to a global Internet of more than 38,000 networks in 72 countries and well over 30 million users worldwide.
Barclaycard’s first Internet offering is Barclaycard Netlink, an interactive electronic magazine connected to the global Internet via the PIPEX network. Internet users will be able to request a Barclaycard application form direct from Barclaycard and enter a prize competition using e-mail. They will also be able to obtain on-line a plethora of information on Barclaycard offers and services.
Barclaycard customers will soon be able to contact the card company’s customer services centre on-line to exchange Barclaycard Profiles points for gifts and to make enquiries about their account from a customer services representative.
Responses of a sensitive nature will not be made via the Internet, until reliable encryption facilities are in place, which is not far away as a number of trials are already operating successfully around the web.
The system to which Barclay-browsing Internet users will have access is totally separate from the computer network containing confidential account information, so that unauthorised access to customers records will be impossible. Barclaycard has also installed a special PIPEX firewall security system to prevent Internet users reaching files other than those designed for public access.
Barclaycard is not yet offering on-line payment services, but as technology develops in the future, this may become a possibility.
Roger Alexander, Managing Director of Barclaycards Emerging Markets Unit, said: The Internet is the communications medium of the future and it may possibly become a channel of payment too. As technology develops we may be able to ensure the confidentiality and security needed to execute financial transactions on-line.
Meanwhile, we are giving Internet users the chance to learn about Barclaycard and to tell us what they would like. We are going to be very responsive to user preferences, so that our services meet customer requirements.
Despite this caution concerning on-line transaction processing, the opportunity for a company with the clout of Barclaycard to develop nad implement a variety of forms of electronic cash is plain for all to see.
The most likely first instance will be via the purchase of credits using a secure html transaction (available with Netscape Communication’s Netscape, and Spry’s Air Mosaic).
This permits a very low cost of transaction, possibly as little as 0.1p, enabling charges for page access to implemented at rates that are attractive to users and viable to those collecting the relatively small involved.