Essay: The history of banking

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  • Subject area(s): Economics essays
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  • Published on: November 15, 2018
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  • The history of banking
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The history of banking can be traced to its first prototype existing in the merchant’s world in the 14th century who profited by offering grain loans to farmers who sought to transport their commodities between cities of Sumeria. Barclays bank is a British multinational firm with its headquarters in London, United Kingdom. Its origins can be traced to a goldsmith enterprise in the city of London 1690 in the streets of Lombard. It was founded on 17th November 1690 by John Freame and Thomas Gould. Later on, James Barclays joined in as a partner of their enterprise in 1736. James Barclay foresaw the consolidation of Gurneys Bank of Norwich and Backhouse’s Bank of Darlington into to a joint-stock organisation called ‘’Barclays” bank. Banking entails creating credit and accepting deposits from the public. It also constitutes collecting and receiving cheques and running current accounts. The activities of lending are performed either directly or indirectly through the capital market. The paper will conduct an analytical focus on Barclays Bank market and financial performance.
Barclays Bank Is a world-leading industry providing retail banking, wealth management, investment banking and commercial banking services. It operates in over 40 countries worldwide having a strong presence in USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The corporate vision of Barclays Bank entails: To be a leading model among Business markets, providing a portfolio of brands synonymous to quality and integrity and also creating a culture based on high performance and behavioural excellence.

Performance Of Barclays Bank In The Financial Market

In the 17th century, the company had created about 182 branches. Today, the bank has over4750 branches in 55 countries by 2017. Since the year 2008, the company has also gone ahead to acquire corporate properties. They bought a reputed credit company called Goldfish at $70 million and also acquired shares worth $745 million in Expobank (Staff, 2011), a major Russian retail bank. Barclays CEO, Lesley in 2014 claimed the profit Barclays had attained before tax for the third quarter was worth 1.1 billion pounds (White and Rumney, 2017). Barclays Public Limited reported a steep rise in pre-tax profit to 3.2 billion euros from 1.1 billion Euros in 2015. The company has since then liquidated many assets across the seas such as in East Africa to focus on the United Kingdom and the United States markets. It aims to consolidate its base as a bank of choice in New York and London cities respectively.

The company has also been involved in several sponsorship programmes such as English Premier League from 2001 to 2017 and the 2008 Dubai Tennis championships (Chapman, 2016). These sponsorships have given the company an edge for instance of 5 billion viewers from television audience and 212 territories of coverage around the world. This serves to create goodwill and awareness of Barclays bank among youngsters who make up a large potential market base.

The bank has also delved into social media activity to advertise itself. Keeping in mind the delicate nature of a brand name, there is a need for the company to sustain an interactive social platform in which they can also communicate with customers and receive feedback (Charnley, 2014). For instance, through an official Twitter account.

Macro Environmental Issues

These include all uncontrollable external factors that influence the decision-making patterns of an enterprise while also affecting its performance and strategies. In this instance, PEST analysis tool on Barclays is used.

PEST Analysis

This describes a structure of macro environmental factors that should be considered when conducting market research. It is a vital component of strategic management. It is a tool that helps one understand market growth.It entails Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors (Perera, 2017, p. 1).

Political Analysis

Politics involves all the given activities associated with governance, affairs of state, and party politics. Politics affects areas of the economy such as labour laws, tariffs, tax policy, trade restrictions, and environmental laws. Political stability is essential to promulgate economic development. Governments have a say on which goods or services can be provided in the market or not. The acts of parliament may foresee regulations, local government by-laws, international and national standard compliance of services and goods. For instance, new political leaders may be inclined to change some economic policies of the government that may affect banking. For example, the election of Donald Trump under a Republican ticket has negatively affected Barclays’ performance. Barclays had made a loss of 1.9 Billion Euros amid hefty Trump corporate tax changes (Dawkins, 2018) as well as a £900m charge for litigation bills, court battles, cost of exiting Africa and Carillion collapse that the company had already suffered.

A second example of the impact of politics is the possible future implication of the Brexit; after the election of Theresa May, a former member of parliament of Maidenhead, as the prime minister of the United Kingdom in 2016. There have been considerable changes in the political arena. Under her governance, Brexit was successfully pioneered by majorly Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings. Dominic spent weeks doing detailed research on the public’s opinion about the European Union. The referendum caused a political shock that impacted the currency of UK. The exit has been gradual since then yet affecting many companies and British agencies. For instance, since international banking business within the EU is made possible by only EU-level legislation. For example, investment, deposit taking and payment services, a possible risk may arise in the future due to complexities that arise from intercountry relations (Hunt and Wheeler, 2018).

Economic Analysis

Economic considerations majorly focus on global economic growth rate, inflation rates, exchange rates in the currency market, and interest rates. The various factors have a potential effect on Barclays revolve around changes undergoing in the currency, the pound for instance or the dollar. Interest rates can affect an industry’s cost of capital. The Barclays bank keenly focuses on the fluctuations of currency and the respective exchange rates to perform well.

Social Analysis

Trends in social factors affect the demand for products and services of a company. This strategy focuses on the need to improve on the objectives of the business putting into consideration the social needs of the clients. Barclays bank takes into consideration factors such as client’s career attitudes, population growth rate, the age distribution of population, and cultural aspects. It aims to satisfactorily meet the demands of many customers through the use of innovative devices, acquiring and retaining a talented workforce. The company also has to adjust its management strategy to adapt to social needs in different seasons. For instance, providing loans for customers intending to go for a holiday vacation at the end of year festivities.

Technological Analysis

Modern technology is so essential in banking systems. This includes the use of automated devices, CCTV cameras, ATMs, the internet, updated security scanning devices and a digital market system. Application of these devices enables Barclays to have a competitive advantage. Using the latest device, inventing new ideas, and applying most efficient technology has been the principle of the bank for many years. This helps the company to serve many clients with satisfactory at short time periods. The only demerit is that they are costly and require skilled labour to operate.

Porter’s 5 Forces

This is an instrument for analysing competition intensity drawing from an industry’s organisation economics. They are the microenvironment forces. It analyses an industry’s level of attractiveness that is responsible the level of profits it can generate and its market performance (, 2018).

Entry Barriers

The very existence of barriers to market entry such as rights and patents affects Barclay’s market performance. Usually, the entry barriers are high, and barriers to exit are low. There is also a high level of entry emerging within financial markets across the globe like the HSBC in India due to soft barriers. These markets are highly legislated and regulated by the governments in their respective countries. Control is exercised by central banks to monitor the interests on deposits and loans and control the flow of money in the economy. Consequently, in emerging markets of India and Africa, Barclays is unpopular. This can be owed to the fact that people have invested in private sector banks. It is therefore an advantage for Barclays to construct and implement strategies that adjust to entry barriers to attract potential clients.

Rivalry Among Competitors

Businesses thrive on competition. The difference between strategies, intentions, and profit motivation among public and microfinance institutions is prevalent. Barclays changes its interest rates and charges to attract customers. Due to the large financial base of Barclays, it has great ease in terms of penetrating markets and establishing itself in new ground territories. Banks use different tactics to gain paces like advertising battles and product introductions. For example, Barclays spent 1.9 billion euros on advertising in 2001.

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

Banks mainly generate money from customer deposits and debtors who pay the loans on interest rates. Barclays bank is no exception. These depositors are transformed into their suppliers eventually. A medium of power exists amongst suppliers of a respective bank who are the individuals who raise money for the bank. These suppliers can put pressure on a bank. An affluent supplier can make the bank more competitive. There is, therefore, need for innovation in service delivery in Barclays.

Bargaining Power of the customers

Failure by banks to offer alternative services such as consultancy can bring the clients’ bargaining power low. This is because many banks are providing the same service. Barclays has edged itself out through affordable insurance covers and e-banking services.

Threat from Substitutes

The existence of financial institutions with meagre interest rates is a threat to multinational banks such as Barclays. The rate of their growth is very high. In countries such as India, there is a high propensity for people to switch to private banking. Barclays has positioned itself to compete with unconventional banking systems.

Swot Analysis

SWOT is a strategic technique of planning that examines the organisation’s internal strengths and weaknesses together with available opportunities and existing threats. SWOT & (2018) has mentioned some of the following strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats that Barclays has:


Barclays has a Strong brand name; they are the title sponsors of the English premier league and tennis championships. Through this, the company is focusing on building a strong good-will among youngsters and at the same time disseminating information about its services.

Barclays is a Global leader in finance having over 4500 branches and operations in over 55 countries. They also have an ATM alliance that allows withdrawal by many people from other banks. Barclays has a trendy brand name offering its services in wholesale, retail and as an investment banking.

Innovation: Barclays launched the first cash dispenser in the history of banking. These devices are uni-directional. Cash is loaded onto them manually and expert control into the TCD, the same money can then be dispensed to respective customers requiring it.

The bank also launched the Onepulse card in 2016 that has many functions.It is a card combined with the Visa credit services and can purchase low-value products up to 20 Euros,.It also conducts its purchases through waving the card over a reader. The purchases are then debited to the owner’s Barclays account. This card has made the transaction of finances fast with a contactless payment scheme platform.

ATMs and branches: Barclays has over 4500 branches in over 53 countries. They offer online banking services and also personal banking facilities through post office branches. Since it is a member of the Global ATM Alliance, it allows people from other banks owning ATMs from member banks to withdraw without making any payments.

Barclays also has an efficient advertising strategy through the finance of sports such as Tennis championship, English Football Premier League, use of social media accounts and investing in television ads.


Exit from East African market in 2017 and closing its branches in Kenya and Uganda. Barclays bank went under great media criticisms after closing its branches in East African countries such as Uganda and Kenya. The company went to add that the reason for their movement was to focus on New York and London Markets. This they did at the expense of its stakeholders in East Africa.

High pay for directors has been a source of great controversy in the media. Its reputation has been plunged in the recent years due to exorbitant bonuses to its directors. Moreover, there exist ethical issues, for instance, providing service to Zanu in Zimbabwe


Greater awareness of youth about finance through premier league.There exist over five billion football fans worldwide most of whom support the sport through television.These people offer an incredible market base that applies as an opportunity for the growth of Barclays. This means there is increased knowledge of the bank among the youth.


The Existence of domestic private banks that have cultural heritage such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank AG provides a fierce competition against Barclays Plc. These banks also incentives to attract customers to their enterprise.

Barclay’s position in Asia has been threatened by the existence of substitute microfinance institutions with low-interest rates. The existing players in Asia have solidified their bases making it difficult for Barclays to advance.

The world economic stability is a factor that affects the bank directly. The position of a bank can be affected by economic stability. For example, the world financial crisis in 2008 led to financial losses even in banks.

BCG Matrix

This is done by Boston Consultant Group. Provides an internal assessment of a company’s performance and how it is affected by the microenvironment. This tool puts Barclays in position based on two dimensions of its market share. The number of consumers of their products and the market growth of an industry or organisation. This refers to the amount of money industry spends on its market growth. There are several stages to BCG matrix which are: problem child stage, rising star stage, ideal stage and dead dog stage.

At this present time, Barclays is in its maturity stage courtesy of its international coverage of the globe. Based on the professional services it offers and its consistent growth over the years it can be said to be in cash cow stage.

CSR Practices

Barclays Banks Ethics and corporate social responsibility practices have gone a long way to account for its success. The elements of purpose, values and behaviours are fundamental to Barclays’ long-term success. Corporate Social Responsibilities activities carried out by Barclays are under four headlines,:

• Marketplace: Barclays embraces diverse consumer needs and provides funding and advice to financially vulnerable individuals.

• Workplace: Barclays introduced a new pension scheme to employees and provided a performance assessment of workers. The workers are financially rewarded according to their level of performance levels.

• Community: Barclays invests 1% of its UK pre-tax profits to the community. This goes along to sponsor poor students, support underprivileged talented students and improve the welfare of the community.

• Environment: Barclays focusses on clarifying and embedding good environmental governance. It goes ahead to support climate change movements such as the Greenbelt Movement that focusses on tree planting.

Ethics represent the set of standards and basic minimums which govern the actions of all employees of the bank (Islam, 2018). They go a long way to make the company build loyalty with its customers while at the same encouraging international investors to invest in the bank.


Barclays has turned itself around through three centuries from a goldsmith enterprise into a top multinational company with annual revenue of about 21.076 billion euros, Assets worth 1.33 trillion euros and over 120000 employees as per the end of 2017. It has taken the bull by the horns when deciding how it can evolve its traditional banking operations to prosper in the world of e-commerce. The future of Barclays solely depends on the banks’ ability to evolve with the changing world. The company’s growing momentum to attaining strategic goals provides an optimistic prospect to the restructuring of the bank. A restructuring to a simplified, reliable, consumer, corporate and investment bank that is transatlantic, with the capacity to deliver sustainable, high-quality returns for shareholders. An overview of the bank’s track record reveals its unlimited potential for global financial excellence.

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