Sep 16th 2014

Putting your finger on it

Sometimes, this PR business is alright you know.

You may have seen in the news recently that Barclays is going to be launching a new finger vein scanning technology for its corporate banking clients, or at least I hope you did! What you probably didn’t realise is that Babel had a big part to play in it!

Day to day, we work with Barclays’ Corporate Technology, Media and Telecoms team, to publicise the work they do with some of the most exciting and innovative companies in the UK. Having worked with the bank on the launch of updates made to its Pingit app last September, we were delighted to work with them again on the launch of the Barclays Biometric Reader.

Working on a major product launch – particularly one that has the potential to fundamentally change how we as human beings carry out our daily lives – is hugely rewarding for any PR professional, and this was no exception.

Of course, an announcement of this scale comes with its own challenges, such as liaising with Barclays’ technology partner Hitachi and its PR firm to ensure both would be happy with the end result, while maintaining overall control of the campaign. Imposing a (roughly) 40 hour embargo on attendees of the media launch event and trusting that they will work with you to stick to it was another hurdle we had to face. Then when something did leak early, the focus shifted to reacting quickly to shut it down and ensure it doesn’t scupper coverage appearing elsewhere.

But with great news comes great responsibility, or something like that.

Now that the dust has settled on the project, we’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on a job very well done. Working closely with Barclays, we were able to secure national coverage in The FT, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Mirror, the Metro and the Evening Standard – not to mention appearing across the BBC, Sky News, and CNBC, as well as all our favourite tech trades. In total, over 200 individual pieces of print, online and broadcast coverage have been generated so far; a resounding success in anyone’s book.

The advances being made in biometrics, and how they will impact on the wider population in the coming months and years are, quite simply, fascinating; becoming less sci-fi and more sci-fact. Last year, Barclays announced it was using voice recognition in its Wealth division, and this has proved so successful that it will be rolled out to its 12m retail customers early next year. It’s clear that Barclays believe very strongly in the power of biometrics to protect customers’ assets, while simultaneously making lives easier.

And if in a few years’ time you find yourself authenticating an account transaction using the veins in your finger, hopefully you’ll remember where you heard about the technology first!


Babel PR