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GambleAware’s Behavioural Insights Team has analysed data from 1.5 million HSBC customers and 10,000 Monzo customers, in order to inform harm prevention and treatment strategies.

By leveraging the report, GambleAware hopes to develop a clearer picture of the ‘ways in which people gamble,’ identify potential harmful behaviours and assist with the creation of prevention, treatment and support resources.

By analysing bank customer and transactional data, the report identified successful utilisation of gambling blocking tools, and also developed ‘unique profiles’ of gamblers.

Of those using Monzo’s blocking tool, the report found that users’ average daily gambling spend tripled the week before the block, whilst also identifying that gamblers had less money on average in their Monzo internal saving pots than non-gamblers.

Maxine Pritchard, Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability at HSBC, commented: “Our research with GambleAware helps us to understand gambling-related behaviours so that we can provide the best support to our customers. 

“This includes opt-in solutions such as a gambling restriction feature to help people control their urge to gamble and automatic declines or referrals for lending to help prevent the customer getting into debt. Customers can also appoint third parties to help manage their finances either through a third-party mandate or our Independence Service. 

“In addition, our specialist support team are on hand to aid customers at risk of financial harm and can refer to trusted external organisations where needed. We continue to work with charities such as Gamble Aware on other ways in which we can ensure these customers have access to the right support.”

Meanwhile, the charity also found that gamblers ranked as ‘Very Concerning’ by HSBC had conducted an average of 35.6 gambling transactions per month, in comparison to 15.6 in those classified as ‘Concerning’ and 1.2 placed in the ‘Control’ category.

“Our work with the Behavioural Insights Team has provided us with important insights into gambling behaviour and the impacts of gambling,” added Natalie Ledward, Head of Vulnerable Customers at Monzo.

“At Monzo, this is an area we care deeply about and we’ve had amazing success so far with our gambling block, which has been used by more than 350,000 customers since its launch in 2017. We’re excited to use these insights to inform future work in this area, further reduce gambling harm and provide our customers with even more control over their financial lives.”

GambleAware noted that although the report indicated the future usefulness of using banking data to assess gambling related harm, these datasets ‘are not enough to understand whether a customer is at risk of experiencing gambling related harms’.

This is because datasets from a single bank are ‘unlikely to offer a full picture of an individual’s spending’, and GambleAware believes that the results are indicative of the need for further research ‘to create a fuller picture of an individual’s overall financial wellbeing’.

Zoë Osmond, CEO at GambleAware, remarked: “This research from the Behavioural Insights Team is a good first step to explore how bank transactional data may be able to identify behaviours indicative of gambling harm. 

“Whilst more research is needed into this area, we encourage all financial institutions, including those from non-bank settings, to make the most of the new guide to see what they can do to protect their customers from gambling harm. 

“By working with financial services and promoting the advice and support available, we can work collaboratively to respond to customer needs to keep people safe from gambling harm.”

Furthermore, GambleAware has also produced a practical guide for financial services regarding the protection of customers from gambling-related financial harms, conducted by the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol.

The guide highlights the value of analysing customer transaction data for spending patterns and behavioural signs indicative of gambling related harm, whilst offering real-life examples of what financial firms can do to support at-risk individuals. 

These actions include the development of staff skills around customer interactions and the consideration of gambling harm when designing products and services.

Additionally, the study highlighted the significance of alternative data sources, such as customer complaints – one bank found that around 40% of its complaints were from customers who thought the bank should not have lent to them because of their gambling spend.

The report follows on from previous GambleAware studies, including an assessment of the Citizens Advice support network and commissioned research by the London School of Economics into the UK’s gambling participation and its associated prevalence of related harms.