Digital technology is revolutionising banking and making it possible for people to manage their everyday banking needs online, on a mobile phone and through contactless services. We’re using all of these new channels to improve the services we offer our customers. For example, in 2011, we issued 2.7 million contactless debit cards.
In Africa, we use mobile phone banking to extend financial services to areas where there are no physical branches, or conventional banking is difficult. For example, in Kenya, we have two mobile banking initiatives, ‘Hello Money’ and a money transfer initiative in partnership with M-PESA (a mobile money transfer service), which aim to extend access to mobile banking.
We recently launched Europe’s first person-to-person service for sending and receiving money using mobile phone numbers. Barclays Pingit allows users to send and receive money, for free, to or from anyone with a UK bank account and UK mobile phone number, without the need to share bank details.
In early 2012, Barclaycard US introduced the Barclaycard Ring® MasterCard®, the first credit card to be developed with the input of an online community of card members. The new card will offer a low interest rate, low fees, simple terms and the opportunity for card members to shape and share in the product’s financial success.
Our commitment to supporting diversity extends to our customers and clients. For example, in Wealth and Investment Management, we continue to support women to take control of their financial future. Research suggests that men and women approach financial decision-making differently. With this in mind, and in response to client feedback, in early 2012 we launched a exploring the role of gender in financial decision-making.
We also continued our financial education programme entitled ‘SmartWoman’ which provides tailored tools and information on a range of financial planning areas, such as a bespoke website and dedicated client advisors. In 2011, SmartWoman also ran finance workshops and financial education sessions for schools and worked with the UK Government to encourage female entrepreneurs.
During 2011, we became the first UK bank to support the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s ‘Make Money Talk’ campaign. We committed to adapt our UK cash machines to offer audio facilities, enabling blind and partially-sighted customers to operate ATMs more easily. Using headphones, customers will be able to listen to on-screen options, which will give them greater access and more independence. We aim to have these new facilities up and running by the end of 2012.