Financial News

  • 4 December 2013, 6:38

RBS And NatWest Glitch: Problems Persist

RBS and NatWest customers are still reporting problems with their accounts after a third major glitch in 18 months hit the banking group's IT systems nationwide.

Thousands vented their anger on Twitter after all of the high street banks' systems went down for three hours on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday, and the fury continued to be felt by the bank on Tuesday.

As well as bank cards, there were problems with RBS and NatWest'swebsites and smartphone apps.

The banking group said that while the technical issue had now been resolved, its 15.7 million customers should visit their local branch or contact one of its helplinesif they were still experiencing problems with their accounts caused by the resulting backlog of transactions.

It promised anyone left out of pocket as a result of the failure would be compensated and there would be further investment in its technical systems to help prevent more disruption in future.

The group chief executive Ross McEwandescribed the latest glitch as "unacceptable" and added: "For decades, RBS failed to invest properly in its systems.

"We need to put our customers' needs at the centre of all we do. It will take time, but we are investing heavily in building IT systems our customers can rely on.

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience we caused our customers. We know we have to do better.

"I will be outlining plans in the New Year for making RBS the bank that our customers and the UK need it to be.

"This will include an outline of where we intend to invest for the future."

Customer services director Susan Allen told Sky News: "We know it was a very busy time of people doing their shopping before Christmas.

"Clearly, we deeply apologise for the inconvenience we've caused."

Ms Allen insisted the problems were "completely unrelated" to high transaction volumes on Cyber Monday but was unable to give an explanation for the failure, saying it was still under investigation.

It is understood that hacking has been ruledout, although some customers told Sky News they were being targeted by phishingemails in the wake of the meltdown, an issue RBS said it was looking into.

Others complained about accounts being closed, suddenly overdrawn or unavailable to access online.

The group said Ulster Bank, which is also owned by RBS, was "partly affected" by the outage.

Reports started to emerge of bank cards being refused at around 6.30pm on Monday.

One customer from Canterbury, Kent, tweeted: "NatWest down again. Looked like a melt in Londis when my card got declined for milk and tuna."

Josh Barlow, a Sheffield Hallam journalism student, wrote: "This is happening every month, if not more, and it's getting ridiculous."

RBS and NatWest came under fire in March after a"hardware fault" meant customers were unable to use their online accounts or withdraw cash for several hours.

A major computer issuein June last year saw payments go awry, wages appear to go missing and home purchases and holidays interrupted for several weeks, costing the group 175m in compensation.

The latest meltdown will heap more embarrassment on the banks because it came on so-called Cyber Monday, when retailers expect their busiest day of the year as pre-Christmas shoppers search the internet for bargains.

Trade union Unite, which represents RBS staff, called for the bank to halt its cost cutting programme, which has seen thousands of jobs axed and IT functions sent abroad, in the wake of the IT problems.

National officer Dominic Hook said: "It is unacceptable that the bank's customers are once again facing inconvenience. Unite has grave concerns that staffing challenges are exacerbating the problems facing the bank."