A few weeks ago, HSBC announced their decision to allow their customers to set up particular blocks in their cards, preventing them from spending money at online gambling sites. More recently, Halifax joined HSBC and gave their customers the option of excluding their cards from gambling sites for a minimum of 48 hours.
Although the measure is not a full block, Halifax has devised it to give customers the chance to take some time to walk away from their impulsive spending behaviours whenever they need it. The key, of course, is for the customers to be aware that they have spending behaviours that can be difficult to control.
This development sees two of the biggest banks in Europe take measures in support of customers who identify themselves as problem gamblers. Similar blocks are already in place for other banks, such as Barclays, Lloyds Bank, MBNA, and Bank of Scotland. Over 15,000 customers have already taken advantage of the measures these banks have put in place since the end of October this year.
According to HSBC, about half a million customers placed bets each month in 2018, and they spent an average of £52.50. The bank received over 12,000 calls related to gambling last year. Their scheme was designed in partnership with charities GambleAware and GamCare. They said the design was meant to create “positive friction” by giving their customers some time to think about their urge to gamble.
The bank further said their latest move was a direct response to concerns raised by their customers about the impact of betting on their finances. They have, in fact, trained some of their staff to respond to all gambling-related calls, with the training being conducted with the help of GamCare. The trained staff are also tasked to analyse data on customer card spending to identify those who might benefit from professional advice.
HSBC’s move to start helping customers who are striving to rein in their gambling habits is part of a growing trend recently seen in the financial sector. The trend is meant to arm customers with the technological tools to achieve their goal of reining in their gambling habits.
Gambling behaviour expert Dr. Heather Wardle has said: “The financial sector is a key enabler of the gambling industry--without them online gambling couldn’t exist. It’s right that banks and other financial institutions take the protection of people from gambling harms seriously.”Just last month, high-street lender NatWest said they will start offering counselling sessions for gambling addicts inside their branches. This move was part of a pilot scheme that just might be rolled out across the country in the near future. Lenders like Monzo and Starling also allow their customers to block gambling and gambling-related transactions on their credit cards or bank accounts.
HSBC’s Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability, Maxine Pritchard, said: “We are committed to helping customers manage their finances, and that includes introducing new tools that can help control spending. With the bank receiving 12,000 calls a year relating to gambling, it’s clear we should do more to support these customers.”