At Starling, we want to give people total control over their finances, which is why we enable customers to block payment references from those using them to send abusive or upsetting messages. We are the first UK bank to introduce this capability, for recipients of Faster Payments (a common way of making bank transfers). We’ve named our new feature 'Hide references'.
Payment references usually describe the nature of the payment being made, whether that’s ‘Rent’, ‘Mum’s birthday gift’, ‘Dinner’ or ‘Drinks’. But in the case of economic abuse (see below), payment references can be used to inflict emotional or psychological harm on the recipient. For example, an ex-partner blocked from all other forms of contact, may use payment references to send messages such as ‘I miss you’ or ‘I still love you’ or even insults or threats. Sometimes these references accompany payments as small as one pence.