RBS IT boss can’t rule out further “glitches”

Simon MacNamara said he could not promise that there would 'never ever' be another IT glitch at the RBS. Picture: Toby Williams
Simon MacNamara said he could not promise that there would 'never ever' be another IT glitch at the RBS. Picture: Toby Williams
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The Royal Bank of Scotland’s head of technology yesterday said he could not promise that there would “never ever” be another IT glitch at the bank, two days after another technology problem left 600,000 payments unable to be processed.

Group chief administrative officer Simon MacNamara said that no major institution with complex technological systems could completely guard against any failings in its IT network, but insisted the bank’s ongoing investment programme into technology had helped it to deal with the latest crisis faster.

I can assure you that at no time were payments missing

Simon MacNamara, RBS

Payments made to customers of the bank’s RBS, NatWest, Coutts and Ulster Bank brands failed to process on Wednesday morning, leaving account holders unable to access their funds.

In a scheduled update to investors and analysts about RBS’s technology programme, group chief administrative officer Simon MacNamara expressed his “disappointment” over the issue and admitted it was “ironic” that he was speaking about the bank’s progress in technology in a week where it had faced yet another a major glitch. “I’d love to say we will never ever have a technical failing again,” said Macnamara, who faced questions over the issue from investors connected to the webcast.

“And if you find somebody that tells you that I’ll tell you you’ve found a liar. It is not feasible to run 100 per cent faultless perpetual systems, particularly of the complexity we need to support our business.. Although the bank said it was “close” to fixing the problem, it could still be as late as the weekend before the problem is rectified.

“It is somewhat ironic that I am here to share our technology progress and plans with you this week of all weeks,” said Mr MacNamara. “As you’ll be aware, we faced an issue around our payments systems and clearly that has impacted our customers.

He added: “I can assure you that at no time were payments missing and that the underlying fault is being rectified and we are very close to being able to apply these payments back to the accounts they should be applied to.”

The latest hitch is a major embarassment for chief executive Ross McEwan, who since taking over at the helm of the organisation two years ago, has pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to improve technology at the bank, which in 2012 was fined £56m by the financial regulator.

Mr MacNamara said that RBS would continue to invest £150m a year in “underlying infrastructure resilience” and said that the improvements which have already taken place had helped the bank solve the latest fault.

Twitter users continued to air their grievances on the bank’s social media pages yesterday.

Susan Douglas from South Queensferry wrote: “Thought the system issues were fixed? No wages paid in overnight?”