Satellite broadcaster BSkyB is planning to launch SkyCard, a branded credit card provided in conjunction with Barclaycard.

Users will be able to place the SkyCard in the second slot of their set-top boxes and use their remote control to manage their account and make purchases.

The card will also function as a normal credit card in shops and cash machines. For every eligible purchase made with the SkyCard, and that excludes some facilities like cash advances, cardholders will earn SkyPoints against discounts on Sky services and monthly subscriptions.

BSkyB will be able to market the loyalty and interactive features of the SkyCard to its subscriber base of seven million homes.

Jon Florsheim, managing director for sales, marketing and interactive at BSkyB said that the launch of the SkyCard will “develop deeper customer relationships that add to the entertainment value from Sky and enhance brand loyalty”.

As previously reported on informitv, Sky formally confirmed last year that it would open up the second card slot to broadcasters from April 2005, but has to date remained quiet about its own plans.

The combination of a conventional credit card and the existing smart card reader in a set-top box will provide a secure and convenient payment mechanism for betting and commerce applications.

The interactive card slot in all Sky set-top boxes is compatible with industry standards for smart cards. This allows ‘chip’ cards to be used in conjunction with interactive applications, enabling a broad range of services from loyalty and payment to personalisation and identification functions.

Other broadcasters are expected to offer their own card schemes, but Sky will have the advantage of being first to move, coupled with considerable marketing power.