‘Switch off’ feature a safe bet with Barclays

Banks are institutions involved in borrowing and lending money. They take customer deposits and in return pay those customers an annual interest rate. Then, they use many of those deposits to encourage their customers to spend or invest by lending a variety of loans.

So, it may seem odd to hear of a bank that is enabling customers to essentially ‘turn off’ spending. However, that’s exactly what Barclays are allowing their mobile banking customers to do by giving them the power to ‘turn off’ certain types of spending. The idea behind this newly launched feature is to help problem spenders, in particular gamblers, by limiting their exposure to these addictive spending habits in the hope that it aids financial independence and security.

Account holders can now block spending in an assortment of categories including; gambling, restaurants and pubs, petrol stations, supermarkets and premium rate websites/phone lines.

Although Barclays are the first major high street bank to pilot the feature, other banks already have similar measures in place. Mobile banks such as Monzo and Starling have been using ‘blocking’ tools for over six months and have reported online gambling spending falling significantly among their customers.

The change in approach implemented by Barclays and certain mobile banks has been applauded by various money and mental health charities.

How will the proposal work?

Customers of Barclays, unlike those of Monzo or Starling, won’t be able to block individual retailers but they will be able to block spending for certain categories. All attempted payments that fall within a blocked category will automatically be declined.

The feature will initially only be available to debit card holders, but it is likely that the service will extend to credit card holders in the new year. Downloading the latest version of the banking app will give customers access to this service, however it will also be available in-branch or via telephone.

This development in banking should be hailed as a genuine effort to help those most vulnerable to problem spending.

Good on you, Barclays.

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