Barclays, a multinational investment bank, has enriched its mobile banking app with a tool that allows customers to “switch off” certain types of spending on their debit cards.
Barclays is the first traditional U.K. bank to offer the service. Some smaller online account providers already offer similar features.
Barclays cooperated with The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute in identifying problematic spending categories.
Blocking categories, not retailers
Barclays will enable customers to switch off spending in five categories: gambling, purchases made via premium-rate phone lines, restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars; groceries and supermarkets; and gas and diesel.
“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 advisors 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,” said Catherine McGrath, managing director at Barclays.
Customers who will especially benefit from this type of service are those with mental health issues, compulsive gamblers, and those who rely on caregivers or guardians to handle their personal finances.
Gamblers to benefit the most
More than 8 million people in the UK are finding themselves in “problem debt,” which implies they are unlikely to repay. One huge factor is gamling, which can be done in physical stores or online.
“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,” said Marc Etches, the chief executive of GambleAware.
Attempted payments that belong to the “switched off” category will be automatically declined.