Yet another online banking outage as NatWest goes offline

It’s all very well fully embracing fintech and offering customers access to services wherever they are, but the problem is even the shortest bit of online or mobile service downtime  becomes a potential PR disaster.

NatWest  is the latest to have problems with its online banking service down for some customers. Customers are converging on Twitter to air their displeasure

NatWest itself tweeted: “We’re aware of some issues on our Online Banking service and are working hard to fix them. Sorry and thank you for your patience.

Customer comments on Twitter include:

“Not just an online problem, my bank card is not working now as well for online payments! People have bills to pay, how much longer?”

“You were acknowledging this problem over an hour ago but only to those that tweeted you directly. Why has it taken so long for a public tweet?”

“It’s the first time I am directly affected by NW’s technical issues so I’m not gonna bash this time, but please fix this ASAP!”

“Hi I need to transfer money it freezes after login”

The NatWest social media team was trying to keep people happy but it is not easy reassuring people that can’t access their own money.

I contacted the press office and they told me they didn’t have any statement on the matter yet.

NatWest is not alone. Only last week online services at Lloyds Bank and its Halifax and TSB divisions which went down and hit the headlines.

People have become so reliant on using mobile phones and online services that when they do go down it is highly disruptive. You have to be quick sometimes to get a story done about an outage as more often than not they are fixed before the articles are complete. Although in the summer of 2012 there was a major problem that left customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank locked out of their accounts for days as a result of a glitch in the CA-7 batch process scheduler, freezing 12 million accounts.

Outages no matter how small add up and can do harm to a banks reputation due to the speed at which new of a problem spreads across social media. Even people that weren’t trying to use a banking app or online banking service will join in with the complaining.

With banks reducing the number of branches and support staff, mobile apps are becoming more important for customer services. Figures from the European Banking Federation (EBF), which include the UK, revealed more than 9,000 bank branches were closed in 2016, and more than 50,000 people working at those banks lost their jobs. So banks have to minimise outages as in the future downtime might be a reason for a consumer to switch banks. There are many on offer and it is easier than ever to change current account provider.