Westpac has introduced a new blocking mechanism in its online and mobile banking platforms, which will allow customers to restrict their spend with gambling merchants.
The digital feature will allow customers to apply the block in real time to any personal Westpac credit card or debit Mastercard, where the transaction is processed through Mastercard.
The gambling block feature has followed other recent measures aimed at increasing the safety of digital banking for customers, including providing customers the ability to report abusive messages via online and mobile banking, and blocking inappropriate language from outgoing payments.
Westpac group executive of financial crime, compliance and conduct, Leslie Wilson Vance recently told the House of Representatives’ standing committee on economics for their review of four major banks that since the bank had begun blocking abusive transactions in January 2021, it had refused around 4,700 transactions from about 3,500 customers.
CEO Peter King added that approximately 10 individuals had been reported to the authorities for repeated abusive behaviour to Westpac customers from another financial institution.
Commenting on the blocking mechanism, Westpac’s director of customer vulnerability and financial resilience Catherine Fitzpatrick said that more than 2,500 customers have accessed the feature since it went live in March.
“The new feature complements our existing service where customers can also call us to request a gambling block to be applied to their card to stop certain transactions, including at casinos, sports betting agencies and online gambling,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.
“We know that problem gambling is a serious community issue. The introduction of the digital gambling block is a further step in providing customers choice and convenience to manage their spending.”
Westpac’s rollout of the gambling blocking mechanism has followed similar moves by National Australia Bank (NAB) last year, when it offered customers with NAB Visa credit or debit cards the option of blocking gambling transactions via its app.
Customers affected by gambling can contact Gambling Help Online for free, confidential support on 1800 858 858 or via www.gamblinghelponline.org.au.
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Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.