The growing importance of e-commerce has led to a wave
of bank-developed solutions being launched to tap into this
lucrative segment of spending. The latest initiative from
Barclaycard, SmartPay, is aiming to become a one-stop shop for
European online retailers, as Victoria Conroy reports.


Bar chart showing results of research – percentage of cross-border offers technically accessible to consumers for which the ordering process failedAccording to recent
figures for Europe from the Centre for Retail Research, e-commerce
sales are expected to reach €172bn ($240bn) by the end of 2010, so
it’s no surprise that banks across Europe are eager to grab a share
of this burgeoning spending segment. Several e-commerce gateways
have been launched over the past few years, but UK banking giant
Barclays, through its Barclaycard unit, is attempting to make its
mark with the launch of a new pan-European offering.

Barclaycard’s SmartPay online
payments gateway is aiming to revolutionise European cross-border
e-commerce by enabling retailers selling to international markets
to compete with the major domestic players.

SmartPay’s next generation
functionality offers a single payment gateway for large merchants’
online stores, adapting language and currency to the origin of the
paying customer. It also offers a diverse range of payment methods,
allowing retailers to match local consumer preferences across
multiple markets. The solution is compliant with PCI DSS,
integrates easily with online shopping carts and existing
e-commerce solutions, and will provide merchants with real-time
management reporting.


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Next generation

SmartPay’s functionality includes
the ability to make cross-border transactions using all relevant
European payment methods, multi-currency payment processing and
settlement, and next generation analytics providing daily and
hourly turnover figures with RSS feeds directly to the merchant’s

Stewart Roberts, business
development director of global payment acceptance at Barclaycard,
told EPI: “This is quite new technology which has been
built over the last 18 months, taking into account everything that
had been learned over the last eight or nine years. We feel that in
comparison to other offerings out there, this was designed to fit
rather than modified to fit, which is a big difference in how
smooth and effective it is in securing the well-being of our
customers and their customers’ data.”

Roberts said that delivering a
seamless and user-friendly customer interface is vital to the
success of e-commerce solutions like SmartPay, because giving the
customer a good online shopping experience is likely to make them
repeat customers.

“Because of how Barclaycard is
organised, we have experience in the consumer space with our card
issuing business and also in the business space with our payment
acceptance business. We could use that to understand what the end
consumer likes, which is really important because one of the worst
things you can do is have a great site to encourage people to visit
you but have a drop-out halfway through the sale process.

“This is designed to make the
payment experience smoother than it has been previously to limit
the drop-outs and make the consumer experience more pleasurable.
They can go to a payment page supplied by us, but that payment page
fits seamlessly into the merchant’s own website so the customer
doesn’t disappear off somewhere else that they don’t


SmartPay’s competitive

According to Roberts, one of the
big differentiators for SmartPay compared to other solutions is the
competitive advantage it gives retailers who are selling outside
their domestic markets, where payment preferences may vary from
country to country.

“Consumers are looking to use the
payment that gives them the most comfort. Credit cards are still by
far the largest method of use in the European marketplace. However,
if a consumer in a country outside the UK has a choice, credit
cards are not always the first available method.

“It’s about playing to the consumer
experience – if you offer the choice that is their preference,
they’re going to enjoy it more and they’re more likely to return.
If you offer them all the choices, then that removes the chance
that they will leave your site and abandon the shopping cart
because they don’t see the payment they’d like to use. It’s a
combination of all those services that are focused on helping our
retailers deliver the best consumer experience at the point of

Another differentiator is the data
harnessed by SmartPay. “We extract an enormous amount of data
within this particular service, but we can overlay that data with
the marketing information that retailers already get from their
websites, and allow the retailer to customise their consumer
experience even more, so they can understand the geography of the
consumer and preferences.”

Roberts is expecting the three
biggest markets for SmartPay will initially be France, Germany and
the UK, but notes that strong take-up is expected in other markets,
such as Spain and Italy. “I fully expect strong take-up from our
existing client base, which is larger in the UK than anywhere else.
But as far as the maturity of the retailers is concerned, outside
of the UK, there are retailers that are getting to that point where
they really need this help.

“I expect this will be fairly broadly spread across the
pan-European marketplace. While this works domestically in
individual countries wherever the retailer would like it to work,
the big benefits are felt by retailers who will have customers in
more than one country, depending on the product and their ability
to distribute it to more than one