Kiwibank offers block on online gambling transactions to help customers curb addiction

Kiwibank is offering a voluntary block on gambling transactions to help stop customers from gambling online.

It is the first bank in New Zealand to offer the block, which has helped some curb their addiction already.

Kiwibank says it saw a spike in online gambling spending during last year's lockdown.

"What we've done is introduced the ability for customers, at their own request, to put a voluntary block on their visa debit or credit cards, which essentially stops them spending anything online gambling," says Julia Jackson, Kiwibank head of sustainability.

Only 12 customers are using it so far, but that's saved them $10,000 each on average since late last year.

Kiwibank insists it's optional, but it will be offered to more people. 

"It's about providing our customers with choice and providing them with the ability to take control of their money and do the right things with it," Jackson says.

None of the other major banks offer anything similar. The Bank of New Zealand is looking at what measures it can introduce, while Westpac has stopped customers' ability to earn loyalty points off gambling transactions. 

The Problem Gambling Foundation wants more banks to block betting but says the buck doesn't stop with them. 

"You can gamble online 24/7. I mean it is literally available in your pocket, in your lounge room, and it's a very difficult thing to spot," says Andree Froude, marketing director at the Problem Gambling Foundation.

"What we need to see is effective regulation, and we need to see strong consumer protection, and we also need a legal requirement for online gambling providers to provide good host responsibility."

The Department of Internal Affairs has spent almost two years reviewing the regulation of online gambling. Newshub asked for an update but it wouldn't provide one, saying the review is still ongoing.