Monzo goes live with gambling addiction feature

By Daniel Lanyon on Tuesday 19 June 2018

Editor's PickDigital Banking

The digital bank was pipped at the post to launch a blocking function for gambling sites by rival Starling despite announcing its plans to do so first.

Digital banking pioneer Monzo has launched a new feature to help allow users to kick their gambling addictions.

The bank has today gone live with the new functionality that allows users to block the ability to make gambling transactions by identifying payments to bookmakers and online gambling sites.

Customers can turn on the block by switching it on in the Monzo app, or by speaking directly with someone in the Monzo customer support team.

The payment block to gambling merchants will kick in when using your Monzo account, both online and in person.

So how do you turn it off? Addictive behaviour is countered by Monzo adding in a few hurdles to inhibit impulsive decision making.

The firm said in a blog post: “To turn off the block, you’ll need to talk to someone in our customer support team first. We might use that conversation to ask you questions like, “Has your situation changed since you first switched on the restrictions?” to help you think through your reasons for turning it off.”

Customers will then need to wait 48 hours of  ‘cooling off’ before the block can be disabled.

The functionality is a classic example of the ‘nudge’ theory of behavioural economics developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler.

By adding in ‘friction’ to the decision making process, so the theory goes, customers can better control negative behaviour against their self interest.

Monzo again: “We hope this added ‘friction’ gives you a little time and space to work out whether the decision to gamble again is the right one for you.”

“We believe that banks can do more to support self-exclusion too. We want to do more to prevent people from having financial problems because of gambling, instead of just supporting them once they’re already in trouble.”

Rival digital challenger bank Starling last week unveiled their iteration of the feature first mooted by Monzo in a blog post back in May 2018.

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