ROYAL Bank of Scotland has admitted around 600,000 payments to customers of its RBS, NatWest, Coutts and Ulster Bank brands failed to process – and may be left unpaid until the weekend.
The taxpayer-backed bank said yesterday that the issue with its “overnight process” has been identified and fixed, but admitted affected customers could have to wait until Saturday for the payments to show up in their accounts.
The incident comes just three years after RBS was fined
£56 million by city regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over a botched IT systems upgrade which locked customers of RBS and NatWest out of their accounts for days and left Ulster Bank customers without access for as long as a month.
Chief executive Ross Mc-Ewan, the former head of RBS’s retail bank, who took over as chief executive in late 2013, has previously pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to ensure there would not be a repeat of the incident. He said that he would work to ensure IT problems could be avoided, ploughing hundreds of thousands of pounds into technical investment, and has insisted that during his tenure he will “make RBS one of the easiest banks to do business with.”
Twitter yesterday lit up with comments, with customers blasting the group over “yet another blunder” after waking up to find payments missing from their accounts. Some of the failed payments were believed to be tax credits and disability living allowance.
Twitter user Mark Johnson wrote: “Ah the wonders of banking with RBS. Help. Should be pay day and I’ve lots to pay out. But they’ve decided not to let me have my money.”
Scottish Twitter user Stephen MacMill added: “Payments come out no bother but not in – how does that [not] surprise me. When will it be fixed?”
Many people complained they had been kept on hold by the bank’s customer service team, for as long as an hour.
In reply to a tweet sent by RBS’s online helpdesk suggesting that customers phone a telephone banking team to get access to funds urgently, Glasgow-based Melissa Goodbrand wrote: “What good is that? In the same boat, called this number. On hold for 36 minutes to be put through to NatWest.”
RBS and NatWest have been hit by a number of embarrassing IT glitches in recent years. A computer failure in 2012 saw as many as 6.5 million customers unable to make payments for as long as three weeks. The outage hit customers at NatWest and Ulster Bank, RBS’s Irish business.
Meanwhile, in 2013, RBS’s online service was disrupted by a denial-of-service attack.
Other banks have also faced similar problems. Last year, Lloyds and TSB became the latest high street banks to experience a technological meltdown which led to many people being unable to withdraw money or use their cards, while in February, Tesco’s online banking operation failed.
James Box, banking analyst at Brewin Dolphin, said Mr Mc-Ewan would “take it on the chin” and face up to the latest IT disaster to befall the company.
“It is not helpful to him – this is deja vu,” he said. “But he has had made it pretty clear that the improvements in the systems are a work in progress. I don’t think something like this will make the market lose its faith in Ross.”