Barclays customers can now 'switch off' from five types of problem spending

Barclays customers can now ‘switch off’ five types of problem spending and block themselves from gambling

  • Customers can now block five areas of problem spending  
  • This is designed to help vulnerable users such as those with an addiction 
  • They can control spending on gambling, restaurants and supermarkets

Grace Gausden For This Is Money

Barclays has become the first high street bank to give customers the ability to ‘switch off’ certain areas of problem spending, such as gambling and premium rate numbers.

The new tool will be available to customers who use the Barclays Mobile Banking app – which is linked directly to their debit card – and is designed to help customers manage their money better.

The idea behind the development is to help vulnerable customers, including those who suffer from mental health issues, such as addiction, as well as those who rely on their carers or a guardian to look after their finances.

Blocked: Barclays have now introduced a tool so customers can 'switch off' certain retailers

Blocked: Barclays have now introduced a tool so customers can ‘switch off’ certain retailers

Catherine McGrath, managing director at Barclays, said: ‘We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and make it easier for them to manage their finances.

‘We work with a range of advisers and partners, as well as consulting with our customers, to identify how our customers’ needs are changing and what works for them.

‘This new control feature is the latest new service that we have introduced in the Barclays Mobile Banking app that aims to give all of our customers a better way to manage their money in a simple, secure and effective way.’  

A button with the Barclays mobile banking app now means customers can choose what they wish to be authorised, which in turn means that any attempted payments made within the ‘turned off’ category will be automatically declined.

There are five retailer categories that customers can control: 

– Groceries and supermarkets;

– Restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars;

– Petrol and diesel;

– Gambling (to include gambling websites and betting shops); 

– Premium rate websites and phone lines. 

The categories were chosen based on research by the bank into areas that customers would most like to manage, as well as consultation with advisers, such as the Money Advice Trust.

New feature is designed to help vulnerable customers including those with problem gambling

New feature is designed to help vulnerable customers including those with problem gambling

New feature is designed to help vulnerable customers including those with problem gambling

It also looked at building on published evidence from organisations such as the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, as well as GambleAware. 

Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, said: ‘We welcome 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 1.7million at risk, and initiatives like this can play an important role in helping to reduce gambling-related harms. 

‘There are no limits to stakes and prizes for online gambling, and credit cards are allowed so it is important to make it easier for people to control their spending.’ 

Taking control: This is what will appear on Barclays customer's mobile banking app

Taking control: This is what will appear on Barclays customer's mobile banking app

Taking control: This is what will appear on Barclays customer’s mobile banking app

Not only is the new feature designed to help customers manage their money, it is also thought it will help reduce the risk of fraud and scams.

Other safety features introduced for Barclays debit card holders over the past year include the ability to set a daily cash machine withdrawal limit as well as turning off the ability to make purchases online and via the phone.

The new tool is now available to all Barclays debit card customers and will be rolled out to credit card holders in the near future.  

Chris Fitch, vulnerability lead at the Money Advice Trust, said: ‘Technology that meets everyday banking needs, while recognising the challenges many of us face in our lives, is the way forward. 

‘Giving everyone more control is the key to achieving this – whether this is someone who wants to be less vulnerable to fraud, or a customer who is trying to take charge of their gambling.’ 

Although it is the first high street bank to offer such a service, challenger banks such as Starling and Monzo have already tested out similar tools on their platforms.

Both banks offer the feature to their current account holders and both are banks in which customer’s accounts are operated by a mobile phone app.

Starling users opt in to the feature within their app and while it’s switched on, every time they try to use their card with a registered gambling merchant, it will be declined.

Monzo, however, allows its customers to block gambling transactions at any time through the app or, alternatively, by contacting their customer service team through its in-app chat feature.  

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