This payment solution from Barclays is okay, but not great.
- Highs: No monthly fee or fixed commitment. Empowers on-the-go tradespeople and small businesses to accept payments from anywhere.
- Lows: Expensive rates, only accepts Visa and Mastercard, requires Barclays account for settlement.
- Buy if: You prefer to stick with a well-known banking brand.
What is Barclaycard Anywhere all about?
Barclays claims that an annual £7 billion is lost by UK SMEs by not providing a debit or credit card solution to customers. The solution? Barclaycard Anywhere. This service allows you to accept credit and debit card payments on your Android device, iPhone or iPad via chip and PIN, contactless and swipe cards.
To get started, you register a Barclaycard Anywhere account online, receive their card reader and charge it. Download the free app on your mobile device and pair the card reader to your mobile device via Bluetooth – and you are ready to accept cards.
The machine itself is okay quality, and the transaction occurs over your device’s 4G or WiFi connection.
The transaction speed is comparable to an in-store reader (assuming there is mobile connectivity of 3G or above). Customer service is provided by Barclaycard’s existing telephone support.
Fees on the high side compared with competitors
The Barclaycard Anywhere card reader costs £60 (+VAT) with a 2.6% fee being charged for each transaction, plus any separate mobile data charges that may apply for usage of 3G/4G on your phone. Refunds cost 75p to process.
This offering is somewhat expensive compared with iZettle and Square, whose transaction fees are 1.75%, and SumUp with the even cheaper flat rate of 1.69% on all transactions. Barclays Anywhere is, however, slightly more affordable for low-volume merchants than PayPal Here. All of these card readers also require data usage from a separate phone or tablet, so that cost would be the same.
In terms of card reader cost, Barclaycard Anywhere comes out slightly higher than discounts that may be available for Square, iZettle and SumUp (see here for current best offers).
All in all, you will save money with most of the other card readers regardless of how much money you’re taking.
Card acceptance is another limitation
Unlike its main competitors (iZettle, SumUp, Square and PayPal Here), Barclaycard Anywhere does not accept American Express. Nor does it accept Diners Club, JCB and UnionPay cards, which iZettle does. If you want to hit a broad range of end users, and especially if you frequently accept foreign cards, this is another limitation.
Barclays said in early 2015 that they were expecting to add new cards, but as of February 2018, this has not happened yet.
Mobile app is simplistic and outdated
A major reservation with the Barclaycard Anywhere service is that the app has actually got worse. It hasn’t been updated since November 2016, which is quite bad and somewhat risky for businesses who need a reliable payment service.
In 2015, the app could help you manage your business – including support for sales functions, stock monitoring, customer data and payment history. The app version available in February 2018 (same version since the late-2016 update) is only able to receive simple payments. There are no other till functions and no preprogramming of products. For each sale, you have to add the name of the product/service and the amount.
From what we’ve seen in the past, this is unsurprising for a bank that does not specialise in mobile applications. For example, WorldPay eventually had to abandon its mobile point of sale app WorldPay Zinc – and subsequently closed down its card reader service too.
The latest app version has an average 1.8 stars in the App Store – a drop from the previously already low 2.5 stars. By far, most ratings are at 1 star, with customer feedback highlighting how basic or buggy it is.
The Android app rating on Google Play stands at 2.3 stars, with recent ratings all providing 1 star. Here too, customer feedback highlights bugs and complaints of the app crashing on their Android devices.
Who is the service aimed at?
Barclaycard Anywhere’s target users are sole traders who only take occasional payments rather than high volumes, and expect an annual turnover of less than £1 million. This could include tradespeople of all kinds, small or mobile premises, seasonal traders or selling at events like concerts or trade fairs. Businesses with unpredictable or sporadic sales would benefit from a pay-as-you-go solution like this.
All things considered, we would only recommend the card reader for businesses who are already banking with Barclays and insist on sticking with their bank for all their business dealings. The stripped-down app is only really suitable businesses who just need a portable card machine for very straightforward transactions.
Smartphone and tablet compatibility
Barclaycard Anywhere didn’t use to be compatible with Android tablets, but their website now states it supports Android device with Bluetooth and Android 4 or higher.
Supported Android smartphones include Samsung Galaxy S3 through to S7, Samsung Note, Note II, 3 and 5 as well as Google Nexus 4-9, among many other brands and models. Compatible tablets that have been tested by Barclays include Huawei MediaPads, Samsung Galaxy Tab E, S2 and 4, among others.
As for Apple devices, Barclaycard Anywhere is available for iPhone 4 onward (with iOS 6.0 or above installed). The iPad 2 and above are also supported.
As far as we could tell, Barclaycard Anywhere’s service does not offer any decisive advantages over its competition. It represents a somewhat convenient service, but comes with the major limitations outlined above such as higher fees, fewer card choices and a basic app with bugs in many cases.
It appears that Barclays has decided to rely on its strong banking brand to capture more conservative businesses as well as existing customers who may prefer to stick with something they already know. Barclays would probably claim that due to its banking experience, the Barclaycard Anywhere solution offers a higher overall level of security, but we do not see any major difference in this area as compared with other operators.
When we checked directly with Barclaycard Anywhere in February 2018, they said they are still accepting new customers and are very much alive. However, they couldn’t say when the next app update will be, so we’ll have to see how they keep up with the competition.
Overall, Barclaycard Anywhere could have been much better. We believe that the majority of small businesses would be better served by solutions such as iZettle, SumUp or Square for their undeniably better offerings and lower costs.