Three more banks develop functions to block gambling transactions

Three more UK high-street banks have announced plans to allow customers to control and block particular payments via mobile applications, following Barclays’ lead.

Lloyds, Santander, and RBS have approved proposals to develop payment-blocking functions that are set to affect transactions made in high street bookmakers and online betting sites and provide greater protections to those who have an issue with compulsive gambling.

The move comes after Barclays announced back in Decemberplan to integrate a ‘gambling block’ component across its customer-facing digital platforms.

The trio will update mobile banking apps in order to ensure customers are able to take control over when and where money can be spent.

RBS, which currently has approximately 30 million customers, announced that it would be implementing similar measures to those issued by Barclays late last year.

Barclays’ gambling-block feature allows customers to turn off engagements with all gambling-related properties, as well as blocking payments in four additional categories: food and drink; petrol stations; groceries and supermarkets; and premium websites and phone lines.

Customers will also be able to implement controls that are specifically designed to limit withdrawals from ATMs, as well as credit card purchases both in-store and online. Santander and Lloyds are also due to implement similar controls for the 14 million and 22 million customers respectively.

A spokesman for Lloyds commented: “Throughout 2019 we will be enhancing our customer communications so customers are informed and alerted to their gambling spend, as well as introducing tools to improve self-service options such as gambling restrictions.

“New card controls give customers more control over debit card transactions for extra peace of mind.”

Following Barclays’ announcement to develop blocking functions late last year, Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, welcomed the initiative: “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.

“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.”

While the move comes as a positive step towards tackling compulsive behaviours, responsible gambling advocates are continuing to campaign for a significantly longer ‘cooling off’ period between deactivating a payment block and the ability to complete transactions.

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