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Barclays app enables users to prevent gambling transactions

Thu, Dec 13, 9:41am by Staff Writer

Barclays have launched a new banking app that enables users to prevent making certain transactions, including gambling. 

The intention is to assist vulnerable customers from making impulse purchases they may not necessarily be able to afford, providing a convenient method for users to take control of what they purchase.

The app has a merchant control function which enables users to prevent expenditure for a host of different spending categories:

  • Groceries and supermarkets
  • Restaurants, pubs and bars
  • Service stations
  • Gambling (including websites and shopfronts)
  • Premium rate websites and phone lines (e.g. competitions and adult services)

Downloading the latest version of the Barclays app will enable users access to the merchant control function and facilitate any restrictions that they wish to impose.

The app doesn’t allow you to block individual retailers and works off a category method, according to The Scottish Sun.

Should a category be blocked by the user, e.g. gambling and the card holder attempts to make a purchase under that category, the purchase will be declined automatically upon attempt.

Mental health a key focus in development

The bank has used research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute in formulating the app.

Martin Lewis, founder and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said: “Mental health and debt is a marriage made in hell. Many with mental health issues struggle to control their spending – whether through gambling, shopping or premium phone lines – and I commonly hear from people with thousands of pounds of debt as a result.”

“This is one reason why I set up the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity – and its detailed research shows the power of giving people more options for control tools that can add ‘friction’ to this type of spending.”

“I want to applaud Barclays for being the first major bank to sit up, take note and act. I believe it will make a real difference to people’s lives and I hope the other banks will follow suit.”

Barclays follows app-based banks Starling and Monzo in introduction a function to block gambling. Barclays and Starling’s blockers enable customers to remove the block instantly, whilst Monzo requires 48 hours notice to remove the restrictions.

Barclays have also worked with the Money Advice Trust in determining the types of customer who could benefit from the initiative. These include people with addictions and  mental health issues as well as those who may rely on a carer or guardian to assist managing their finances.

App welcomed by government

Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport said “using technology for good must be a priority for all businesses. I support this move from Barclays that can help people protect themselves from the risk of gambling-related harm. This is an area where both industry and government have important roles to play. I urge others in the banking sector to follow suit.”

The initiative will be of benefit to gamblers who regularly access their debit card to make an impulse bet where they may not be able to afford it.

Marc Etches, chief executive of Gamble Aware, a leading charity in Britain to minimise gambling-related harm, said “GambleAware welcomes this initiative by Barclays, which we hope will encourage other banks to do the same. There are 340,000 problem gamblers in Britain and a further 1.7 million at risk, and initiatives like this can play an important role in helping to reduce gambling-related harms.”

The feature is currently available to all Barclays debit card holders and will be soon rolled out to credit card holders as well.

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