Barclays Promotes Responsible Gambling with Merchant Control Feature

Barclays bank has launched a new type of responsible gambling feature that will allow customers to manage their spending habits by restricting deposits to online gaming sites.

Barclays Merchant Control

Barclays has introduced a new feature that will allow customers to block payments to betting and gaming websites. (Image: Engadget)

Currently applicable to debit card transactions, the new switch off feature is called merchant control and is available in the latest version of the Barclays mobile app. Although the update isn’t designed to target the gaming industry specifically, online and offline transactions to betting operators are named among the list of controllable industries.

Barclays Merchant Control will cover the following  areas:

Gambling

Premium-rate websites and phonelines

Restaurants, food outlets, pubs and bars

Petrol and diesel

Groceries and supermarkets

Pressure Forces Responsible Gambling Innovation

For customers that don’t use the Barclays mobile app, customers it’s possible to request a block by speaking to customer service agents in-store or over the phone. Once implemented, the block will prevent users from spending money with any business linked to the nominated industry.

Although Barclays isn’t the first bank to implement such controls, it is the first mainstream one to do so. Commenting on the innovation, founder of MoneySavingExpert said he was pleased that his efforts to enact change are starting to make an impact.

“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,” Lewis wrote on MoneySavingExpert.com.

For UK gaming operators, the news is likely to stir up mixed emotions. According to Monzo, an online bank that introduced a similar feature in June, new controls have cut gaming spend by 70 percent.

Indirect Benefits for Gaming Operators

However, on the other side of the coin, the new measures will help promote responsible gambling. Throughout 2018, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has made a point of holding operators accountable to higher standards of service and consumer protection.

In May, the Senate Group urged all UK gaming companies to join its “when the fun stops, stop” campaign. Citing an 82 percent penetration rate, the responsible gambling organisation said that actively promotion its message would help uphold the UKGC’s licensing expectations.

Despite calls for tighter controls, 32Red was fined £2 million in June for failing to protect a vulnerable customer. Following an investigation into one player’s betting activity over a three-year period, the UKGC found that 32Red had missed multiple problem gambling signs.

With the UKGC showing no signs of backing down, Barclays new spending controls could be a blessing in disguise for players and operators.

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