Barclay's is to offer the UK's first electronic money payment service, linked to users' credit card accounts, on the revamped version of its Internet shopping site, Barclay Square.
In its first two years the site has struggled to arouse any significant interest with consumers in shopping online and sales figures from some of the participating retailers have been very low. Earlier in the year IBM closed its World Avenue Internet mall after lack of retailer and customer interest.
Barclay's insists it will persevere and its site has now been revamped with a new front end and, in conjunction with Internet commerce developer Open Market and electronic money specialist Cybercash, it is now offering a number of new electronic services to try to encourage custom.
The first, the Barclay Coin facility, requires users to download an electronic wallet to their PC and link that to a Barclaycard account. By transferring money from the card into the wallet, users can then buy goods online from participating retailers, either on the site or on another Barclay Coin-compatible site.
This also enables users to make transactions of less than #10, beneath usual credit card limits.
"Internet usage in the UK is now growing at a rate of between 10 and 15 per cent a month and much more is now known about what Net using customers and retailers expect from a virtual shopping environment," said Roger Alexander, managing director of Barclays Emerging Markets Group.
Only two retailers are participating initially in the nine-months trial of the facility, available before the end of the month. A spokesperson said they would try to add more stores as the trial went on.
Interflora had the highest level of sales on the old Barclay Square and the spokesperson said orders overall were increasing, by up to 270 per cent in the case of some of the 14 stores, but she would not admit from what starting level that increase was based.
Two other electronic functions have been added to the site. Digital couponing sends users a digital discount voucher, while Smart statement enables users to track previous orders and provides a digital sales receipt.
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