Barclays has made history after launching a new service allowing customers to block certain payments.
The feature, which launched on Tuesday (December 11), will allow customers using the mobile app to block purchases and payments to specific retailers or sites, The Guardian reports.
It’s thought that the new feature will allow users dealing with gambling problems to block their spending at online and real-life casinos and betting sites.
To use the feature, customers simply need to click on a button on the mobile app which enables them to select which type of retailer they are able to spend with. Any attempted payments that fall within that category will then be declined.
The five retailer groups featured in the app include groceries and supermarkets; restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars; petrol and diesel; premium rate websites and phone lines; and gambling websites and betting shops.
Barclays Bank said that the feature will help customers take control of their finances and make them less vulnerable to fraud and scams.
Right now, the feature is only available to Barclays debit card customers but its expected to roll out to credit card holders in the future.
Personal finance journalist Martin Lewis, who helped provide Barclays with research to develop the feature, 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.”
Marc Etches, the Chief Executive of GambleAware, said in a statement: “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, initiatives like this can play an important role in helping to reduce gambling-related harms.”
Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Using technology for good much 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.”