The creator of a gambling block for banking customers has been awarded the first ever ‘Your Consumer Champion’ award, at the Which? Awards 2019.

Natalie Ledward, who works in challenger bank Monzo’s vulnerable customer team, was recognised for creating a gambling block feature that is used by 100,000 Monzo customers.

After hearing feedback from consumers, Which? said Ledward took the initiative to develop a new concept to help some of the bank’s most vulnerable customers.

The feature works by spotting any transaction a person might try to make with bookmakers – either online or in a shop – by using merchant category codes.

It instantly stops the transaction from happening, before any money leaves the customer’s account.

If the block is switched off customers have a 48-hour cooling-off period before they can place a bet. There is also a daily cash withdrawal limit.

The block has not only benefited Monzo customers but it has also had a profound impact on the financial industry as a whole, with other banks now following suit to develop their own blockers.

Monzo customer Danny Cheetham said: “I tried to work out how much I’d spent on gambling and I got up to over £100,000 in total.

“I recently turned 30 and I’m nearly debt free. I owe a lot of that to Monzo and the fact that they’ve got the gambling block.

“I’ve finally been able to put payment plans in place, pay off my debts and actually get to the point where I can start planning my future.”

Which?’s ‘Your Consumer Champion’ award was introduced for the first time this year to recognise individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to improving the lives of consumers through positive change in the last 12 months. Nominations were submitted by businesses on behalf of individuals

Anabel Hoult, Which? Chief Executive, said: “We designed this award to shine a spotlight on the power that individuals in businesses have to create huge and lasting change on behalf of consumers.

“Natalie’s story demonstrates this perfectly by showing the impact that one person can have to create positive change from inception to completion.”

Shortlisted for the award were Sophie Mohns, principal officer at the National Trading Standards Scams Team for the implementation of a call-blocking project and Tina Walls, a customer service assistant at Coventry Building Society who helped a customer with learning difficulties manage their finances.