Fifty years ago today Barclaycard launched the first credit card with a six-page business strategy, an investment of £20,000 and 30 employees who operated from a converted shoe factory in Northampton.
For the launch on 29 June, 1966, Barclays set itself the target of recruiting one million cardholders and 30,000 outlets for the new-fangled plastic money.
A derelict shoe and boot factory in Northampton was converted in just two months into the main Barclaycard centre while £500,000 was spent on advertising and over 23 million forms were sent out to prospective customers.
Within 12 months, over a million consumers in the UK had signed up for a Barclaycard credit card, which then could be used to make purchases of up to £25.
Amer Sajed, CEO of Barclaycard says: “Back in the sixties, cash was the most popular form of payment and the idea of ‘paying by plastic’ was completely alien to most people. But the introduction of credit cards led to a ‘democratisation of credit’ in the UK and kick-started fifty years of great British shopping, creating a material shift in how we pay for goods and services."
For the launch, Barclays adapted the computer programme used by the Bank of America for its BankAmericard system, launched in 1958.
Today, Barclaycard processes 4.6 billion transactions in the UK alone, equating to more than half a million every hour, and £293bn in payments across the globe.