The reason we’ve been a market leader in payments for 50 years is largely due to our colleagues. They have worked tirelessly to help buyers buy and sellers sell since we began in a Northampton shoe factory in 1966. And today, that innovative pursuit is still at the core of our DNA. We talk to one of Barclaycard’s longest serving colleagues, James McDonald, who’s been in the business for the long haul.
James – tell us what Barclaycard was like when you joined?
I joined Barclaycard in 1972. So this year is my 44th year of service. When I started out the business was a young, vibrant, UK start-up. There were no desktop computers!
And what was your first job?
I was a Voucher Input Clerk on a salary of £430 a year. Back then, Barclaycard was run by vouchers, microfilm and printouts, so all retail transactions were made by ‘zip zap’ imprinter machines that copied card details onto carbon vouchers.
You must have seen a lot in your time. What’s the biggest change over the last 40 years?
Technology, without a doubt. Chip and PIN was an incredibly complex project and I saw first-hand that we created a new standard for the UK. And we were way ahead of the times. The same goes with PDQ (Process Data Quickly) machines. Those big projects were where I cut my teeth and learnt so much. What I saw from the beginning was a growing demand, inside and outside of the business, for automation and efficiency.
Today you’re the Director of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives. Tell us more about that?
My job really revolves around retail point of sale and technology. We work to make it easier and safer for our customers. The goal of my team is to continue to transform the payment industry. We want to enable retailers in the digital world to be successful.
What’s it like working for Barclaycard now?
Today it’s an incredibly vibrant, growing business with a huge global reach. It’s diverse, talented and I’d say that we have more ambition than ever. What’s great is that our company is so relatable to anyone on the street, because we’re all shoppers and understand payments.
50 years later, innovation continues to be at the core of Barclaycard. How would you describe innovation?
New, different and changes things for the better.