NatWest customers will now be able to block gambling debit card transactions for 48 hours.

The banking services provider launched a new voluntary feature this week, which users can activate in their mobile app.

The introduction of this new feature comes not long after the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) called on the finance industry to help combat problem gambling in the country.

More tools to “support recovery” 

Before the UKGC implemented its credit card gambling ban in April, NatWest customers were already able to block transactions via this payment method. The newly-introduced feature is an extension of the previous credit card blocker.

David Lindberg, Chief Executive of Retail Banking for NatWest, said:

“The introduction of a gambling block for debit card customers will help us to equip problem gamblers across the UK with more tools to support their recovery.

“Problem gambling and financial hardship go hand in hand and through our work with GamCare, we have offered an increasing amount of help to those customers who need it most through our trained specialists and donating branch space for treatment therapy to reduce traditional barriers to access.”

Meanwhile, GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings also shared her thoughts on the new feature introduction.

“The ability to block gambling transactions through your bank card or app is an important tool for those struggling with their gambling, and is ideally used together with other practical tools such as self-exclusion, blocking software, and specialist support around the issue.”

NatWest also offers training to its specialist support teams for dealing with problem gamblers. This is part of its partnership with GamCare.

The banking service also had several GamCare-provided private, face-to-face support for people affected by gambling-related harm.

Calls for the UK finance sector to support player protection initiatives

Earlier in October, key figures from UKGC attended the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute conference. There, the Commission’s Chief Executive Neil McArthur called on financial services companies in the UK to support safer gambling efforts.

He said:

“We all have a part to play to protect vulnerable consumers. The Gambling Commission has already banned gambling with credit cards, as evidence showed that it would reduce the risk of gambling harm to consumers. That was an important step, but there is always more that can be done.

“The financial sector has an important role to play. We have already seen the introduction by banks of gambling blocking software, together with the use of data to support customers affected by problem gambling.”

Lockdown transactions declined early on, before rising

As reported by the Evening Express, NatWest said that overall gambling transactions declined during the most restrictive lockdown measures. However, as the UK began to open up again, the number of gambling-related transactions also rose.

In September 2020, gambling spend was 32% higher than in the same month last year.