Kiwibank has consulted with the Problem Gambling Foundation to let people put a block on payments to casinos and gaming websites from their debit and credit cards.
According to the New Zealand firm, it is the first bank to offer the scheme, where customers can ask for payment blocks to be put on their cards via phone banking.
It comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the bank’s subsequent offering of interest-free, fee-free overdrafts to help people who are struggling. But Kiwibank found that many of the recipients of such overdrafts were spending the money on gambling.
Kiwibank’s Hayley Beattie (pictured) said: “We did see people who were desperate enough to provide something for their family turn to online gambling.
“Some of them told us they thought they could look at being able to win some money.”
The firm ran a pilot of the payment blocking scheme in late 2020, with 75% of customers successfully keeping the block in place for more than three months. Moreover, the bank estimates that the average customer in the pilot avoided AU$10,000 (US$7,600) in losses over that period.
“The bank is now able to block merchant codes for known gambling websites if a customer requests it,” said Kiwibank head of sustainability Julia Jackson.
“When our customers trust us enough to discuss their gambling addiction, we’re able to really help them. We work with them to develop a solution that restores their mana and retains their dignity; without any judgment.”