Starling Bank has introduced a gambling blocker, enabling customers with addiction problems to block betting payments from their accounts.
Currently, people with gambling addictions who want to stop themselves from placing bets have to contact various different providers to block their accounts.
With nearly one per cent of the UK population reporting a gambling problem, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has been calling for banks and other card providers to make the situation easier by allowing customers to simply block all gambling transactions on their cards.
Starling is now doing this, offering customers the chance to activate the blocker as an opt-in feature from the bank's app, meaning that all attempted transactions to registered gambling merchants will be declined.
If they turn the feature off because they want to start gambling again, customers will get a message saying: “You are cancelling the block you put in place to prevent you from gambling. If you are worried you spend more than you should on gambling, call the National Gambling Helpline now on 0808 8030 133 for free advice on how to stay in control.”
Anne Boden, CEO, Starling, says: "Starling’s gambling blocker underlines how digital banking can quickly react to issues facing customers and use technology to develop solutions that help them to live a better financial life.
"This isn’t about telling customers not to gamble - it’s about providing problem gamblers with a simple and effective tool that can help them to regain control over their finances."
Starling says that its feature is an industry first but last month Monzo introduced something similar, giving customers the option to block payments to gambling merchants through the company, both online and in person.
Monzo's system actually requires customers who want to turn the block off to call the bank and speak to a rep. Even then, the restrictions are not lifted for 48 hours.