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Online bank Monzo’s gambling block tool has seen a sharp increase in demand over the past six months, with 50,000 customers using it for the first time.

This is a third more than the number of people who started using it for the six months prior.

The London-based bank also blocked 20% more transactions than it did in the previous half-year period, according to the PA news agency.

The tool is designed to help people overcome gambling addiction by blocking transactions to betting companies through their current account.

The software groups transactions into specific spending categories, allowing the bank to identify if a transaction is sent to a gambling merchant.

To prevent compulsive behaviour, customers must contact the customer support team to disable the feature and wait 48 hours before they can do so in the app.

In addition, Monzo said that more than half a million of its near seven million total customers have used its gambling block since it launched.

Natalie Ledward, Monzo’s head of vulnerability, access and inclusion, commented: “Amid the cost-of-living crisis, we know that tools like our gambling block are more important than ever in providing customers with much needed support.

“It’s a great example of the kind of tools banks can put in place to help vulnerable customers.”

Monzo was the first UK bank to launch a block on gambling transactions in June 2018. Other major banks such as Lloyds, NatWest, and Chase have since introduced similar features on their mobile apps.

UK charity GambleAware recently expressed concern that people, particularly women, may increase their gambling in the coming months as a way to compensate for household income that has been eroded by inflation and the rising cost of living.

It has also warned that December could create a “perfect storm” of the cost-of-living crisis, the holiday season, and the football World Cup, all potentially leading to an increase in betting behaviour.