Barclays introduces beacon technology to enhance in-branch experience

Barclays has launched a trial using beacon technology to assist customers with disabilities when banking in-branch

Barclays Bank has launched a trial using beacon technology to assist disabled customers with in-branch banking.

The trial, taking place in Sheffield, will use an application on customers' iPhones to notify staff members when a customer with a disability has entered the branch and of any extra assistance they require.

Customers using the service can pre-register and provide appropriate information and a photo. They are also able to choose how much information they provide to the bank about assistance they may need.

Minister of state for disabled people Mark Harper said with one in five individuals having an impairment, it is encouraging to see work from banks like Barclays aimed at making everyday life easier for people with disabilities. 

“Disabled people and their families have a spending power of £200bn every year, so the case for making all businesses as accessible as possible is stronger than ever,” he said.

The scheme ties in with Barclays offering iPads to in-branch employees, with customer details sent to assistants carrying the devices on the bank's shop floor.

Barclays director of accessibility and inclusion Elaine Draper said: “Beacons are the latest in a long line of innovative initiatives from Barclays designed to make our customers lives easier, which is particularly important for people with non-visible disabilities – something our customers have told us is an issue.”

The bank has also worked on other ways to provide accessibility for customers, including audio-descriptive cash machines and high-visibility cards for the visually impaired.

In-branch banking on the rise

While many banks have been forced to cut branches in favour of a drive to online banking, research by Accenture recently showed customers' use of bank branches is increasing in parallel with the surging take-up of online banking services.

Barclays has attempted to keep branches open and adapt them to provide customers with an even better service. In July 2014, the bank announced it would be re-training 6,500 traditional branch staff so they can offer financial management to customers. The staff also received an automatic annual pay rise of 2.8%. 

The bank's employees first started trialling the use of iPads in branch in 2013 as part of a bid to further enhance interaction with customers visiting stores to achieve greater customer satisfaction and promote loyalty.

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