HSBC rolls out gambling transaction blocking scheme

13 November 2019

Banking group HSBC UK has joined forces with industry charities GamCare and GambleAware to develop and launch a new self-restriction tool to enable its customers to block gambling transactions on their accounts.

Available to HSBC customers with an active debit or credit card, the option can be switched on via the ‘Manage Cards’ section on the HSBC UK mobile app, as well as via telephone banking or by going into a branch.

If a customer attempts to make a payment to a gambling merchant after opting for the restriction, it will be automatically declined. The option to self-exclude certain card transactions can only be reversed following a 24-hour cooling off period.

In addition to the new self-restriction option, HSBC, working in partnership with GamCare, has trained its staff on how to both identify and support customers with gambling addictions.

According to HSBC, approximately 504,000 of its UK customers made monthly gambling payments in 2018, with an average transaction value of £52.50. The bank also said it handles around 1,000 calls a month relating to gambling.

“We are committed to helping customers manage their finances and that includes introducing new tools that can help control spending,” HSBC UK’s head of financial inclusion and vulnerability, Maxine Pritchard, said.

“While the option to restrict transactions will help people control their urge to gamble, we continue to work with charities and regulators on other ways in which we can ensure these customers have access to the right support.”

Mike Kenward, development director at GamCare, also said: “HSBC UK will be giving their customers a valuable tool to help them protect themselves and have received training to support their staff to help those they identify as affected by gambling issues directly.”

Dr Jane Rigbye, director of education at GambleAware, added: “If people choose to gamble they should be able to do so in a safe environment, where the risks related to gambling, and the support services available to all are made clear.

“Initiatives like HSBC UK’s can play an important role in helping to reduce gambling-related harms and encourage people to seek help via the National Gambling Treatment Service, should they need support.”

The move comes after NatWest, another banking group, also announced a new initiative to tackle problem gambling, linking up with GamCare to support to its UK customers in-branch.

The new partnership is initially launching in 12 branches across London and the South-East, GamCare’s trained treatment network will now offer help to NatWest customers who may be experiencing gambling-related problems. The likes of Barclays Bank, as well as challenger banks Starling and Monzo, have already launched transaction-blocking functionality for gambling for customers.

Image: Håkan Dahlström