Posted on Thursday 30 August 2018 by Ulster Business

Adrian 1

At times in Northern Ireland, it can look frustratingly like a lot of things stay the same. However in business, things are really moving and the way we do business is evolving at a breath-taking pace.

The biggest change we’re seeing is in all things digital. We now adopt new technology quickly and easily because developers are getting better at using a human-first approach to make complex things intuitive. Take contactless payments.

Remember how the first few times you waved your debit card at a machine, it was a bit scary and surreal. We’ve rapidly become accustomed to contactless payments and things like Apple Pay. This once futuristic stuff is now common place and it is really transforming how companies transact.

Along with these complex advances come the obvious threats of cyber security, the potentially ransomable value of individual or company data post-GDPR, and the competitive market risks to businesses which aren’t already on their digital game.

While we’re seeing a burgeoning community of tech start-ups through both our own Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths and a growing number of incubator hubs in Belfast and Derry, as well as impressive numbers of IT jobs created from inward investment, it’s never too late to begin your digital transformation. The thing is, if you’re a tech firm, your financial tech needs to be walking the walk too. Increasingly, we’re finding clients placing more emphasis on this in their choice of banking partner, above all else.

Barclays was the first bank to develop an ATM over 50 years ago, and the first UK bank to launch a credit card. In more recent years we were among the first to launch contactless cards, and we were the first bank in Northern Ireland to make cheque imaging available to our clients. In the past 10 years we’ve invested over £1bn in new technology which has meant our clients can be sure our digital technology is right up to date.

While other banks are now facing a catch-up period of investment and the challenges of upgrading their platforms, Barclays has the technology already in place. Our personal banking app was recently voted best in the UK, and our small business platform allows businesses to access a pre-approved overdraft limit at the touch of a button.  

Our award-winning corporate cash management system, Barclays.net, is tried and tested by the 25% of UK companies which put it through its paces every day.

BEYOND NI: EXPORTS AND CONNECTIONS

The spotlight is being turned on Northern Ireland’s exporting capabilities, brought into sharper focus by the issue of Brexit. Without doubt, export sales are one of the key opportunities for growing the economy. We are really excited to work with established export businesses like Moy Park at one end of the spectrum and a successful new tech business, Neurovalens, at the other. This start-up began life as one of the first tenants in the Barclays Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths and due to growth, has recently moved into its own premises to accommodate its now more than 30 staff.

While access to money is obviously important for business growth, access to our networks can be just as valuable for NI companies. With Barclays’ major presence in the UK and US, our London and New York private equity contacts are opening doors for Northern Ireland firms looking for market intelligence.

This style of partnership working with a local banking team, which can link into a well-established international network, is exactly the foot up our companies need to make them competitive in a global economy.

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