Customers of a major bank can now block themselves from specific types of debit card spending with a new service.
Barclays is the first high street bank to introduce the tool and said it would give customers more control over where they spend their money and offer better protection against fraud.
The bank says the aim is to help financially vulnerable customers, including problem gamblers, people in debt and those with mental health problems.
Account holders can block spending on a range of categories, including premium rate websites and phone services, pornography and online and offline gambling.
They can also activate the feature to stop themselves spending at supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways, pubs and petrol stations.
Customers cannot single out specific retailers to be blocked, only categories that they want to avoid spending on.
Research by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute set up by personal finance journalist Martin Lewis was used by the bank as a basis for the service.
Barclays also called in debt charity the Money Advice Trust to help pin point the types of customer who could benefit from the service.
Lewis, founder of the MoneySavingExpert website and a regular guest on TV and radio, said he hoped other high street banks would introduce similar services.
He added: “It will make a real difference to people’s lives and I hope the other banks will follow suit.”
“Many with mental health issues struggle to control their spending, whether through gambling, shopping or premium phone lines.
“I commonly hear from people with thousands of pounds of debt as a result.”
Barclays customers can access the new service via the newest version of the bank’s app and it is also possible to activate it by phone or in a branch.
The bank says it can only be used for debit card transactions at present, but there are plans to introduce it for credit cards in future.
Although it is the first major high street bank to operate the blocker service, a number of online-only banks offer similar facilities.
They include mobile bank Starling, which allows customers to block spending on gambling sites and even with specific retailers.
Monzo introduced a similar tool in June and says it has seen a 70 per cent fall in customer spending on gambling as a result.