barclay’s saves you from yourself…

Just a few weeks ago, Barclay’s became the first big bank to give its customers unexpected control over their spending. Via Barclay’s app, you can now “switch off” your debit card so that it can’t be used for five specific types of purchases – gambling, “premium-rate websites and phone lines”, restaurants/pubs/bars, gas, and groceries. Once a type of purchase is switched off, any transaction you try with your card at the relevant type of retailer or business will be automatically declined. The idea is to try and help people manage their spending impulses, and is aimed particularly at those with mental health issues or addictions. But, it can also be used to protect yourself from others trying to make fraudulent charges, if you’re worried about that. Barclay’s says it will do the same for credit cards in the near future.

Why It’s Hot: 

It’s a bold move for a bank to offer its customers a way to not spend their own money, but it’s clearly aimed at helping people. Unexpected, and a great example of putting people over profits and thinking about the customer experience beyond just transacting with the bank itself. It’s only a halfway house, given that the feature is completely within each person’s control. But even the cue of having your card declined and having to go into the app to turn whatever type of purchase back on would likely make someone who can’t help themselves think twice.

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Send Money Through Snapcash

Snapchat, a company already valued at $10 billion based on the strength of its vanishing photos, has now launched a new service called Snapcash. Partnering with mobile payment provider Square, Snapchat has developed a service that lets users send money to other users. Through Snapcash, users link their debit cards to their Snapchat accounts, “and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button,” according to a blog post Monday from Snapchat.

Snapchat has 100 million users, mostly tech-savvy 20-somethings who thrive on instant gratification and trust the Internet. The service is available for users age 18 and over, and all debit card information will be stored by Square.  Square will process the payments and transfer the money between accounts.

Why It’s Hot

Snapchat makes a ready distribution system based on its number of users and the characteristics of the audience.  This is one more move toward a cashless society, but it remains to be seen if Snapchat’s basic business model can accommodate this type of financial feature. The audience is there. The distribution is there. But banks are competing in this space, as well, and it’s going to take a lot of effort (but not impossible) for Snapcash to gain traction as a credible payment method.