Barclays app turns on retailers with “turn off” spending feature
Barclays has launched a new feature for customers within its mobile banking app giving them the ability to turn off spending with certain types of retailers.
Calling itself the “first” UK high street bank to enable users to do this – the idea is to give “vulnerable customers greater control over their money”.
Back in June, UK challenger bank Starling had a similar idea when it unveiled a gambling blocker. Users could turn on the feature, which blocks betting and gambling merchant codes.
Barclays says for its feature it is 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, the bank has 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.
Martin Lewis, the famous 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.”
He adds: “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.”
A button within the 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.
Barclays identified five core retailer groups which customers can control. These are groceries and supermarkets; restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars; petrol and diesel; gambling (to include gambling websites and betting shops); and premium rate websites and phone lines.
According to the bank, this follows on from other safety features introduced for debit card holders over the past year, such as the ability to set a daily cash machine withdrawal limit and turning off the ability to make purchases online and via the phone.
The new feature is available to all Barclays debit card customers, and will be rolled out to credit card holders in the “near future”.