Barclays introduces ‘blocking’ facility on debit cards
The new tool is designed to help those in serious debt, or who struggle with compulsive spending or gambling. Reckless spending can also be a symptom of some types of mental illness. The charity Mind says: “If you feel very ‘high’ during a period of mania or hypomania, this can lead to impulsive decisions about money that make sense at the time but leave you in lots of debt.”
The option is available to all account holders, who can now block spending in a number of categories, including gambling sites, premium websites, restaurants, pubs and petrol stations. Barclays is responding to pressure from consumer groups and charities.
Customers can use online banking to block categories, phone the bank or go into a branch. At the moment, the blocking facility only applies to debit cards, but the bank plans to extend it to credit cards.
Barclays is the first of the high street names to introduce this type of facility. However, money app Monzo introduced a similar tool in June and has seen a 70% decline in spending on gambling as a result.
Sally Francis-Miles, money spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said: “The ability to block payments, especially via gambling sites or outlets, is a welcome move by Barclays that gives some control back to those that struggle with addiction. The follows digital-only banks, such as Starling and Monzo, who kicked off the initiative.
“Let’s hope the rest of the High Street banks follow suit and bring some welcome relief to those who need it. It could make the different between people need to get out of a spiral and back on track with their money.”