Barclaycard proposes utility spin-off services

Barclaycard is talking to utility companies about plans to sell Barclaycard-branded gas, electricity and water to its customers in 1998.

One source close to Barclaycard says the company offers a national customer base to regional utility companies via its database of 9 million customers. The utility companies will effectively be own-label suppliers to Barclaycard, providing back-up services to customers.

Shaun Powell, commercial director of Barclaycard, would not comment on any negotiations taking place, but says, “the utilities market is going to break down so much it is an excellent opportunity for big companies with large customer databases who collect money to add value.”

The moves by the UK’s biggest credit card issuer is the first signal of the banks’ fight-back against encroachments in their market by telecoms, utility and supermarket companies who plan to launch their own financial service products.

Sources say the schemes will allow Profile Points to cover utility bill payments and offer cheaper utility bills. Barclaycard already has a scheme with Cellnet to offer cheaper mobile phones and Profile Points extended to bill payments. Last week it signed a deal with Ford to renew its deal for a further three years that provides Barclaycard customers with money off Ford cars.

Last week, Sainsbury’s signalled its intention to attack the cards and banking market with the launch of two new Visa credit cards and an own-label bank, Sainsbury’s Bank with Bank of Scotland.

This week Barclaycard announced that it would co-sponsor the Champion of British Sport Awards with The Daily Telegraph for four years.

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