National Westminster Bank introduces 48-hour delay gambling block on debit cards in bid to curb gambling addiction
NatWest has introduced a 48-hour gambling block on all their debit cards which means that customers will need to wait 48 hours before they could make any gambling-related transaction. Any attempted transaction during these 48-hours will be automatically declined.
This block has been put into place to help customers control their spending in relation to gambling, aiming to give the UK customer more tools to support their recovery. This comes after the rapid increase among NatWest users due to the easing of lockdown restrictions, resulting in a 32% increase in September 2020 when compared to the same month in 2019.
NatWest has taken responsible gaming very seriously. Last year they partnered with GamCare to provide support to any gambler experiencing harm. This partnership also saw GamCare provide training to NatWest support staff so that they will be able to identify gambling-related harm and support those who want to stop gambling. GamCare, before Covid-19 restrictions, were also using NatWest branches to conduct face-to-face private consultations to help those who are heavily affected by gambling problems.
The CEO of Retail Banking at NatWest, David Lindberg, stated “The introduction of a gambling block for debit card customers will help us to equip gamblers experiencing harm across the UK with more tools to support their recovery. At NatWest, our partnership with GamCare is hugely important. Excessive gambling and financial hardship go hand in hand, and over the last year we have offered an increasing amount of help to those customers who need it most through our trained specialists and by donating branch space for treatment therapy to reduce barriers to access. I look forward to developing this work further and offering greater access to services through our work with GamCare.’
Anna Hemmings, CEO of GamCare, praises this block feature and is pleased to see NatWest take these positive steps to support their customers. Hemmings says “The ability to block gambling transactions through your bank card or app is an important tool for those struggling with their gambling, and is ideally used together with other practical tools such as self-exclusion, blocking software, and specialist support around the issue. A recent report from the University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre has highlighted that ‘positive friction’ such as a cooling off period is important for the success of blocks, as this prevents them being turned off in the event of urges to gamble. GamCare is pleased to see NatWest take this positive step to support their customers and we hope more of the financial sector follows suit.”
Barclays has also adopted a similar scheme, which includes a 72-hour cool off period rather than 48 hours. This means that if a customer proceeds to spend on gambling websites or apps there will be a 72-hour wait before they can make any sort of payment. With Barcalys and NatWest adopting these new block features, there may be more banks to follow suit, which Hemmings is hopeful for.
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