Banks Help Customers Gamble Responsibly

Golden Piggy Bank

Lillie Mcguire
Posted on March 01, 2019 at 10:03am

A growing number of British banks are helping their customers spend less, not more, money by allowing them to block certain types of payments. Could it be that self-redemption and taking a real interest in customer wellbeing are the big emerging trend of 2019?

According to reports, smaller banks Monzo and Starling offered the service before high street institution Barclays launched its own version of the feature in its app in December last year. It is currently available only for debit cards and EFTs, but will be offered for credit cards in the future.

How It Works

Depending on the bank, customers can activate the feature either by switching it on in their app settings on their mobile device, or they can contact their bank’s customer service department. At banks such as Monzo, the option is to block gambling payments. That particular institution already has seen a 70% decrease in such transactions.

Barclays, however, allows customers to choose which categories are blocked. Other categories in addition to real-money gaming include restaurants, take-out food, bars, and pubs, high-cost phone lines and websites, fuel stations, and supermarkets and grocery spending. Starling is the only one whose service allows the blocking of payments to specific casinos and retailers.

Unblocking Is Not Easy

Monzo does not make it easy to unblock payments. Its website makes it clear that this is to give customers who have made an impulsive decision to gamble the chance to reconsider.

If someone decides to start playing games for real money again, they will need to contact the bank’s customer service team, who may question the customer’s decision and situation. Following that, the option to unblock gambling payments in the app will become active 48 hours later.

In Line With Gambling Regulation

The move by the banks to support customers whose betting and other addictions may be leading them into financial difficulties is in line with the recent push to renew industry regulation. A hot topic in the debates that raged around the topic was that of player protection.

The UK’s Gambling Commission insists that casinos and bookmakers give players the option of self-exclusion. According to vulnerable customer specialist, Natalie Ledward, the Monzo team thought that banks could better support that option.

Ledward explained that the institution wanted to help its customers prevent addiction-relation financial problems, rather than limiting itself to trying to support their recovery only once they are in debt. The move was welcomed by various focus groups and charities, the Money Advice Trust among them.

Taking Customers Seriously

The launch of the payment exclusion features in the wake of renewed gambling industry regulation might a step toward a more supportive, healthier society.  No doubt, retailers and other sectors will follow suit in realising that customers are more than just walking wallets. It could be only a matter of time before they offer similar services to theirs.


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