Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan has said the bank feels customers’ pain after they found themselves locked out of online and mobile accounts.
Users started reporting issues in the early hours of yesterday, saying they were unable to access the app or online banking services.
Services were offline for at least five hours after the outage started about 5am.
The problems are thought to have potentially stemmed from a firewall upgrade, but investigations remain ongoing.
The bank has said no customer data was compromised at any point. The issues affected RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers.
The banking group has nearly eight million customers who use mobile and online banking. RBS assured customers they were still able to use telephone banking, branches and ATMs during the outage.
Mr McEwan said “We feel the pain for our customers every time this happens.
“We’re still working through what the issue is there ...
“Absolute apologies to customers who are used to using mobile – and more and more are using mobile.” Mr McEwan added: “We make a lot of changes to our technology on an ongoing basis. It may be related to that, but we just don’t know at this point.”
Asked about previous glitches, Mr McEwan said such incidents had “dropped dramatically”.
He said: “If you look back at 2014 we had something like 300 incidents. Last year we only had 20, so we are certainly improving the organisation and how it operates for our customers.”
RBS confirmed customers across the brands were affected by the outage.
In a statement, RBS said: “We would like to apologise to customers who experienced issues logging into their online and mobile banking accounts this morning, this issue has now been resolved.”
Customers hit out at the banks on Twitter yesterday, with one saying: “Natwest app down again. Not really acceptable for our 24 economy! How can we trust you with our money?”
Earlier this month, RBS announced plans to swing the axe on another 54 branches – 14 of which are the last bank in town, meaning there are no other bank or building society branches in those areas.
RBS has now announced a total of branch 603 closures since March last year.
The public-owned bank announced in December last year that it was closing 62 branches across Scotland.
Ten of those branches were later given a stay of execution until at least the end of this year, pending a review. RBS has previously blamed falling branch business and growing numbers of digital banking customers for shutting sites in recent years.
The latest glitch came a day after some Barclays customers were left struggling to log into accounts due to a technical problem. Barclays said it has since fixed the issue.
The banking problems follow TSB’s huge IT meltdown earlier this year after a botched IT switch saw millions of customers locked out of accounts.