Barclays lets mobile banking users block gambling and drinking

Barclays has become the first high street bank to allow customers to block payments with certain types of retailers in an effort to give people struggling with addictions more control over their spending.

The feature will be available from Tuesday for customers using the bank’s mobile app and could help those dealing with gambling problems to cut off their spending in betting shops and on gambling websites. People can also block their own spending in pubs, bars, supermarkets and on premium-rate websites and phone lines.

A button within the Barclays mobile banking app enables customers to choose which types of retailers they are able to spend with. Attempted payments that fall within the “turned off” category will be declined automatically.

The feature is available to all Barclays debit card customers and will be rolled out to credit card holders in the near future.

Barclays said the move would help all its customers take greater control over where their money can be spent, as well as making them less vulnerable to fraud and scams.

The bank’s work has used research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute set up by personal finance journalist Martin Lewis. It also worked with the Money Advice Trust to identify the types of customer who would benefit from the initiative. These include people with mental health issues and addictions as well as those who rely on carers or a guardian to handle their finances.

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