Kiwibank introduces gambling block option for customers

Kiwibank is helping customers kick their gambling habits with a solution that gives customers the choice to block transactions for online gambling sites on their Visa debit or credit cards.

Kiwibank took action after seeing online gambling spending spike during lockdowns. Analysis of transactional data by Kiwibank economists showed online gambling increased significantly in periods of lockdown.

The trend was noted by frontline Kiwibank staff who found some customers seeking support were also spending tens of thousands of dollars on gambling sites.

Head of Sustainability Julia Jackson said Kiwibank had worked with customers to find a practical solution that could make a real difference. The bank is now able to block merchant codes for known gambling websites if a customer requests it.

The New Zealand-owned bank also brought in PGF Services (Problem Gambling Foundation) who was able to provide training for the team on how to approach the topic.

The pilot kicked off in September 2020. The idea was to test bank processes as well as learning how best to have sometimes challenging conversations with customers who might have been putting themselves or their whānau in financial hardship due to online gambling.

Customers involved in the pilot said they found the block helpful with 75 percent successfully keeping the block in place for more than three months, saving the average customer $10,000 over that time.

“This is a huge win in the short-term, but what it means over time is that the customer’s financial wellbeing is much more secure,” said Jackson.

“When our customers trust us enough to discuss their gambling addiction, we’re able to really help them. We work with them to develop a solution that restores their mana and retains their dignity; without any judgement – it gives them a real and impactful choice.

“Kiwibank frontline staff are also more aware of the external services we can refer customers for further assistance. With help from the Problem Gambling Foundation and this new tool, we have customers whose lives are changing direction,” Jackson concluded.