Barclays is a legendary word in the financial world in Europe and America. Of late it is becoming a household name in the rest of the world – especially Asia and Africa and Latin America. It is the 18th largest firm in the world as regards assets, financial service provider and ranks 15th in the banking industry calculating market capitalization. In UK it is the third largest bank. The headquarters of the bank are in London.
The Barclays story unfolded in the murky streets of 17th century London. In 1690 John Freame and Thomas Gould set up their business as goldsmith bankers in Lombard Street, London. In 1736 James Barclay, the son-in-law of Freame became a partner. In 1864 a new building for the bank was built on Lombard Street. In 1896 a big stride was taken when Barclays teamed up with 19 different banking bodies to form a joint stock bank by the name of Barclay and Company Ltd. It branched off into 82 locations having a respectable deposit of 26 million pounds. The bank because of certain connections often came to be referred to as the Quaker Bank.
Meanwhile with each passing year more and more mergers took place. In 1925 Barclays Bank began international operations by merging with Colonial Bank, Anglo Egyptian Bank and National Bank of South Africa. In 1961 it opened its first computer branch on Drummond Street, London. The first credit card in UK was introduced by Barclays in 1966. In 1972 Barclays was the first bank to make use of television advertising.
Today UK it has innumerable branches on high streets and of late it has teamed up with Post Office Ltd to expand personal banking services in the field of secured or unsecured loans. Most of the Barclay Bank branches have round the clock ATM services where cards from other banks can be used without paying extra charges. Barclay is a part of the Global ATM Alliance.
From 2004 Barclays has been sponsoring the Premier League (football) as also the Churchill cup from 2006. From 1987 it has sponsored the Football League till 1993.
Recently Barclay is having hiccups and on 30th August 2007 it had to borrow $3.2 billion from Bank of England (standby facility). The Barclay explanation was that the loan was necessitated due to a computer technical mix up. Barclay has no liquidity problems and in fact is flushed with it. However during the first week of November the shares of Barclay dropped by 9% and for a short time trading was suspended. There were strong rumours that Barclay’s fate was connected to the sub-prime crisis in USA. The subsequent release of figures showed that the bank write-downs at $1.9 billion were much less than apprehended.
Barclays Bank entertains 27 million customers spread across 50 countries. More than 127,000 personnel keep the wheels of Barclay running. In the first half of 2007 a profit of 4.1 billion pounds was returned thanks to the unique position of Barclays in the financial world, its increasing global presence and its ever-innovative management and staff.