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HSBC extends gambling cooling-off block to 72 hours

| By Daniel O'Boyle
High street bank HSBC has extended its gambling transaction blocking tool to now last for 72 hours at a time.

The bank said a major reason for extending the block was the British Gambling Commission’s October 2020 data, with the number of online bets and active accounts rising month-on-month as many workers returned to working from home.

“This is a challenging time for many of our customers, with some not working and perhaps facing financial difficulty,” Maxine Pritchard, head of financial inclusion and vulnerability at HSBC UK, said.

“By increasing the restriction to 72 hours, this will help give our customers time to pause when they are tempted to return to gambling.

“We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and make it easier for them to manage their finances,” Pritchard explained. “Customer feedback on our gambling control showed us there was more we could do to help and we’ve worked closely with them and with GamCare to design the solution.”

Launched in 2019, the gambling transaction block is intended as a “cooling off” measure for those who feel they are losing control of their gambling.

Players may activate the block on the HSBC app, through the “manage cards” section, by telephone banking or at a branch.

“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 – as we have recently emphasised through our ‘TalkBanStop’ partnership and campaign,” GamCare chief executive Anna Hemmings said.

“The University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre has also 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,” Hemmings continued. “GamCare is pleased to see HSBC UK and first direct take this positive step to support their customers.”

Gambling transaction blocking has become a popular feature for banks since online banks Starling and Monzo launched theirs in June 2018.

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