HSBC under fire as BACS payments fail to arrive

HSBC's Bacs payments difficulties could have a knock-on effect on other banks. About 275,000 customers are directly affected. Picture: AP
HSBC's Bacs payments difficulties could have a knock-on effect on other banks. About 275,000 customers are directly affected. Picture: AP
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AROUND 275,000 payments likely to total hundreds of millions of pounds have been held up by a glitch in HSBC’s systems.

The fault has left many workers fuming as their salaries simply have not arrived, leaving them potentially short of funds.

While the problem does not relate to payments from banks other than HSBC, their customers will be affected by not receiving money that they expected to have been paid.

Alan Charlesworth, managing director of insurance and legal recruiter IPS Group, took to Twitter to complain: “None of my staff have been paid. HSBC, when will this be sorted?”

Another Twitter user wrote: “HSBC. None of my staff has been paid. Cannot get through on phone. Absolute shambles of a bank!”

Lydia Smith tweeted: “HSBC where’s my money? I didn’t get wages and have bills to pay.”

HSBC said it was working to resolve the problem, which comes ahead of a Bank Holiday weekend in England and Wales, but it still did not know whether it would be able to process payments by the end of yesterday.

A spokesman said: “There has been a fault in the information used to process some payments from HSBC business customers.

“Approximately 275,000 payments have been affected, including payments to customers of other banks.

“HSBC apologises for the inconvenience this has caused. We are taking immediate steps to ensure the payments reach beneficiaries as quickly as possible.

“We will work with other banks to ensure that customers do not lose out as a result of today’s problems.”

The fault affecting payments relates to the way HSBC transmitted information to the national Bacs payment system.

It centred on payments such as invoices and salaries which should have gone out automatically overnight. That means the number affected was not rising as it was not a problem affecting ongoing transfers yesterday.

HSBC will work with other banks to make sure that, for example, should an account holder not receive their salary as a result of the problem but still makes a regular direct debit payment and goes into an overdraft, he or she would not lose out.

The Bank of England has been alerted over the glitch while the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would ensure the bank took steps to help those left at a disadvantage.

Bacs processes transactions worth up to around £50 billion every day and is seen as critical to the functioning of the UK financial system.

It said: “Bacs is aware of an isolated issue affecting one of its member organisations. The Bacs system is operating as normal and we are currently working with our partners to help resolve this as quickly as possible.”

The Bank of England said: “We are in contact with HSBC regarding their recent IT issue. We will be working closely with HSBC as it resolves the problem.”

An FCA spokeswoman said: “The FCA is in contact with HSBC regarding the issue. We will be working closely with the firm as it resolves the problem and to ensure there are steps in place to help consumers affected.”

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: “Banks have suffered a series of unacceptable failures with their IT systems in recent years and this latest one at HSBC will do little to reassure consumers that banks are making improvements.

“It’s essential regulators continue to take tough action to ensure banks properly maintain the payments system we all rely on, and we expect HSBC to fully compensate anyone affected.”