NatWest rolls out gambling block and 48-hour cooling-off period features

UK bank NatWest has introduced a gambling block on its debit cards and introduced a 48-hour cooling-off period for customers.

NatWest has launched a gambling block feature on its debit cards and is giving customers the ability to trigger a 48-hour cooling-off period using their mobile banking app.

NatWest’s gambling blockers

While the 48-hour cooling-off period is active any gambling transaction attempted during the time frame will be automatically declined. The gambling block will remain in place indefinitely unless a customer chooses to remove, in which case it can be disabled after the 48-hour period.

NatWest said it introduced the feature to allow customers to take further control of their spending and added that it saw a drop in gambling transactions during the coronavirus lockdown.

However, in its announcement, the bank said that as restrictions have eased across the country spending among customers has begun to rapidly increase. According to the bank, “overall gambling-related spending is around 32% higher in September 2020 than in 2019.”

David Lindberg, CEO of retail banking at NatWest, explained: “The introduction of a gambling block for debit card customers will help us to equip gamblers experiencing harm across the UK with more tools to support their recovery. At NatWest, our partnership with GamCare is hugely important.

“Excessive gambling and financial hardship go hand in hand, and over the last year, we have offered an increasing amount of help to those customers who need it most through our trained specialists and by donating branch space for treatment therapy to reduce barriers to access.”

Anna Hemmings, CEO of GamCare, explained: “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.

“A recent report from the University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre has highlighted that ‘positive friction’ such as a cooling-off period is important for the success of blocks, as this prevents them being turned off in the event of urges to gamble.

“GamCare is pleased to see NatWest take this positive step to support their customers and we hope more of the financial sector follows suit.”

NatWest’s previous partnership with GamCare

The introduction of NatWest’s new gambling blockers comes after NatWest partnered with GamCare last year to provide support, advice and treatment for gamblers and their loved ones experiencing harm.

This partnership with GamCare included giving customers the option to block gambling transactions on credit cards, this was before the UK Gambling Commission implemented the ban on using credit cards to gamble.

On top of this, the partnership allowed the bank’s specialist support teams to undergo training on how to identify gambling-related harm and support people who wish to stop gambling. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, GamCare used several NatWest branches to provide face-to-face private consultations to support people suffering from gambling-related problems.

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