In what looks like an Australia first, Bank Australia has been praised and criticised for a move to stop gambling purchases using its credit cards.
The Bank that prides itself on having “clean” money has told customers: “Effective from 1 December 2020 we are blocking all gambling and gaming transactions on credit cards”.
The incredible move comes with a caveat: you can still gamble using your debit card, because that’s YOUR money and not funds lent by the bank on credit.
Not everyone is happy. A Poll run by Sydney Daily Telegraph shows 60 per cent of readers agree with banning gambling transactions on credit cards- but 40% are against.
Those against think it’s an infringement of freedom to be dictated to by a bank. Others say Australia Bank is just trying to “improve its customer base”.
A Bank Australia spokesman said it was a customer-owned bank and any money loaned from their savings and deposits needed to be done responsibly.
The decision falls in line with one of the banks statements: “The bank that puts people before profit”.
A bank spokesperson said: “As part of our commitment to responsible banking we want to make sure that the money we lend is used in ways that minimise potential harm to our customers and others.”
The spokesperson also said that Bank Australia does not think gambling with funds borrowed from other customers is responsible.
Four key financial assistance organisations: Consumer Action, Financial Rights, Consumer Credit Legal Service (WA) and Financial Counselling Australia sent a submission to the Australian Banking Association in March 2020 this year making the suggestion of prohibiting the use of credit cards for gambling.
Bank Australia is the first to make a move in line with the suggestion.
The submission found that Australians are the world’s biggest gamblers per capita and said: “We are extremely concerned about the impact of providing credit for gambling. While a person affected by gambling may lose all of their money, the harm is compounded considerably when they now owe debt(s)”.
In their responsible banking policy, Bank Australia says: ‘We believe that a truly responsible bank can make society better, and that where people and organisations put their money has a big impact on the world’.
The same document also says: ‘We don’t lend to casinos, online gambling operators or businesses that derive revenue directly from poker machines or sports betting’. Suggesting that the block on using credit cards for gambling purposes is another step in a direction the bank feels strongly about.
The other forbidden sectors include tobacco, fossil fuels, weapon makers and live animal exports.
The spokesperson reported that a ‘majority’ of the bank’s’ 165,000 customers supported the new changes.
There is however, no issue with using a debit card for the same purchases.
What tell us what you think – do you think a bank should control how you spend?