Multiple Online Banking Systems Go Down in the UK

Payment chaos. For bottom-line-obsessed bank executives, IT systems are an expense that needs to be slashed. The results are showing up.

Internet banking has become a crisis-prone business in the UK, as the online platforms of big banks suffer regular outages and other forms of IT disruption.

Friday morning, the online systems of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and Natwest — all part of the RBS Banking Group — crashed in unison, leaving millions of customers unable to pay bills or view their balance on their online and mobile accounts. The group has 19 million customers in the UK and Republic of Ireland and 5.5 million active mobile app users.

After around five hours of chaos, the RBS Group announced that the problems had been resolved. The failure had apparently been caused by a “technical glitch” — a word that is being used with increasing frequency by high-street lenders — in a regular update to their firewall. The bank emphasized that it was an “access issue” and there is no evidence that customer data was compromised. But then, it would say that!

On Thursday, it was the turn of the UK’s largest bank, Barclays, whose website and telephone banking service crashed for around seven hours, leaving frustrated customers locked out of their online accounts.

Fed-up customers took to social media to vent their anger, with some complaining that they were unable to access their accounts not only through the Internet platform but also ATMs. Barclays has around 24 million UK customers, though it’s not clear how many of them were affected by the outage

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