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Who wants a Nanny Bank?

In the UK, we talk a lot about The Nanny State. There’s this idea that government can be too controlling and demanding, and treats us like children and they are our nanny guardian. It reminds me of this sketch from Tracey Ullman …

… the question is how far do we let the State go in looking after us? Controlling us? Letting us do what we want to do?

Again, it leads us into politics. Do we want to live in a dictatorship, where the governments tells us how to breathe and exhale, or do we want to live in an anarchy, where there is no government and we all do what we want to do?

We know the latter does not work but neither does the former. There has to be a balance. People have to be allowed to be people, within reason. It’s called freedom with limits. The reason this occurred to me is the headline I shared the other day:

Aussie bank BANS customers from using credit cards on any gambling services

A bank has banned its customers from using credit cards on any gaming or gambling services, sparking backlash from customers who claim McDonald’s will be next for selling unhealthy food. Bank Australia has informed its customers they will not be allowed to make any gaming transactions on their credit cards from December 1.

Should a bank be making such decisions? Could a bank stop their customers from being unhealthy and doing things that damage their financial and health acumen?

Hmmmm …

Bank Australia’s action builds on similar moves, particularly in the challenger banking community, but the difference is that, in their case, it’s a choice to block certain actions. It’s my choice to stop and block gambling and eating unhealthily. It’s my choice to no longer drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. It’s my choice not to spend money in sex clubs and drug outlets. It’s my choice.

This is the big question for the future in a purpose-driven bank. Should a bank nanny their clientele? Should a bank control the customers’ actions? Should a bank tell the customer what they can and cannot do?

I personally feel a bank should give a customer the choice to do or not do those things. If a customer feels that their gambling, drinking, eating or use of drugs is out of control and wants to stop that and their access to that, then they should be allowed to choose to do that. However, for a bank to say that it is not allowed, is too much.

We need government support, not government control. In the same way, we need bank support, not bank control. A supportive government ensures that society works well together; a supportive bank allows us to choose what we do or do not do. They don’t tell us. We choose.

Choice is the key. Choice. Choice, not control. Therefore, in the round of these things, Bank Australia … you are nuts.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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