Westpac Extends Digital Gambling Feature to More Cardholders
Australia’s leading bank Westpac (ASX: WBC) has extended its real-time digital gambling block feature to more than two million personal debit card users of its Bank of Melbourne, St George, and BankSA subsidiaries.
The digital gambling block feature was first introduced by Westpac earlier this year. It allowed customers with eligible Westpac cards to instantly block certain gambling-related transactions to gambling merchants like casinos, sportsbooks, and other online gambling platforms via their mobile or internet banking.
Initially, when the feature was released in March, only Westpac Group credit card and debit card customers could access it. However, with the recent extension of the feature, more players can restrict their spending on gambling or even against fraud.
Coming with the latest update is a gambling block automatically added to all the Westpac Group debit card owners under the age of 18 to prevent underage gambling. This will ensure that underage can’t complete transactions with a gambling operator using branded bank cards online.
According to Catherine Fitzpatrick, director of Westpac’s customer vulnerability and financial resilience, the digital gambling block feature has been activated more than 30,000 times since its release.
Gambling addiction continues to be a serious issue in Australian communities, and as more people transact online during the pandemic, the digital feature gives customers the ability to manage their gambling spend whenever they might need it. The benefits of being able to apply a block in real-time also give customers more control and flexibility at the moment. While the majority of customers are now using digital channels to complete their everyday banking tasks, our Customer Care team continues to remain available as another way for customers to call and have a block applied.
Lauren Levin, Director of Policy & Campaigns at Financial Counselling Australia, said the pandemic has led to a rise in the number of people worried about their money, which led to them gambling online.
“We are noticing the pandemic has led to a rise in people gambling more and worried about their money. The gambling block is a great idea. Research tells us that the more often a person gambles, the greater the risk of developing a gambling issue. The bank gambling block is an easy tool that will help a lot of people,” Levin said.