Barclays Bank has become the first of the UK's incumbents to follow the example set by challengers Starling and Monzo in enabling customers to block payments to certain categories of retailer, such as gambling services and premium rate websites and phone lines.
Barclays says it developed the new tool with customers in vulnerable circumstances in mind. Working with a range of advisors such as the Money Advice Trust and building on published evidence from organisations such as the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Barclays identified a group of customers who would particularly benefit from being able to decide how and where their money is spent. These include those with mental health issues, addictions, and those who rely on carers or a guardian to handle their finances.
A single button within the Barclays mobile banking app now allows the customer to choose which types of retailers they are able to spend with, meaning any attempted payments that fall within the ‘turned off’ category will be automatically declined.
Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert, founder and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, says: “Mental health and debt is a marriage made in hell. Many with mental health issues struggle to control their spending - whether through gambling, shopping or premium phone lines - and I commonly hear from people with thousands of pounds of debt as a result. I want to applaud Barclays for being the first major bank to sit up, take note and act. I believe it will make a real difference to people’s lives and I hope the other banks will follow suit.”
The new feature is now available to all Barclays debit card customers, and will be rolled out to credit card holders in the near future.