Westpac implements banking function to prevent gambling payments
Westpac will allow customers to block digital gaming transactions in an effort to eradicate the rise of problem gambling online.
The big bank is incorporating a new feature in its mobile and online banking platforms, which in real time prevents a customer from making a transaction with a game merchant from MasterCard-branded debit and credit cards.
Since launching a few weeks ago, Westpac has registered over 2,500 of its customers enabling the feature to curb problem gambling.
The implementation of this feature coincides with a boom in online betting and gaming during the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted normal operations in the gaming industry.
Financial institutions have already implemented security measures to curb credit card gaming transactions, but the latest addition from the country’s second-largest bank is a further step suited to online gaming services.
The measure is able to prevent betting on sites such as Sportsbet, TAB and Ladbrokes.
Family and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the measure would allow Australians a “sure kick” while minimizing the damage from problem gambling.
“Westpac’s Digital Gaming Block will give Australians a convenient, reasonable and immediate way to manage their spending and minimize gambling-related damage,” Ms. Ruston said.
“It’s great to see that industry groups have identified gambling as a matter of serious concern and are taking action to allow their customers to regulate the industry.”
Catherine Fitzpatrick, Westpac’s director of client vulnerability, said problem gambling was a systemic issue across the country, which was having a “ripple effect” on a person’s family and friends.
She noted that more serious players would find whatever means they needed to find funds to place a bet, but the bank allowed the feature to be available on transaction accounts and credit cards.
“We have seen through COVID-19, as an industry, that a lot more people have gone digital (games) and a lot more people have played,” Ms. Fitzpatrick said.
“The new functionality complements our existing service where customers can also call us to request a play block to be applied to their card to stop certain transactions, including at casinos, sports betting companies and online gambling. . “
Australians struggling with a gambling addiction can benefit from support from Gambling Help Online. Call 1800858858 or visit www.gamblinghelponline.org.au