FCA to probe banking IT

UK financial services regulators are investigating IT at banks following a number of high profile outages that have left consumers unable to access their money

UK financial services regulators are investigating IT at banks following a number of high-profile outages that have left consumers unable to access their money.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Bank of England will review how finance firms manage their exposure to IT risks.

It will also look at how engaged boards at banks are with the issue of IT resilience and if they have the expertise needed to challenge the IT decisions taken by the executive.

Clive Adamson, director of supervision at the FCA, said IT is critical to customers for accessing and managing funds 

“We want to make sure that the banks have resilient IT systems in place that are able to cope with consumer demand, so customers aren’t left financially stranded or disadvantaged," said Adamson.

The review, which was announced in the FCA’s business plan, will report back in early 2015.

This follows up on work undertaken in 2012, when the chairmen of the nine largest banks and building societies were contacted by the regulator, which requested information on what was being done to ensure the overall resilience of critical infrastructure and banking processes.

The 2014 review will assess what progress has been made so far by the banks and whether more needs to be done.

Earlier this year a PRA director said UK bank IT systems are not robust. The BBC's Sam Woods said: "I feel we are a very long away from being able to sit here with confidence and say that the UK banks' IT systems are robust."

In 2012, when RBS had major IT problems, the regulators contacted other banks and they had to provide statements and evidence to show how we would not suffer a similar fate.

The problems at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) meant customers were unable to access their accounts for days.

The glitch in the CA-7 batch process scheduler ended with 12 million customer accounts being frozen. Customers were unable to access funds for a week or more as RBS, NatWest and the Ulster Bank manually updated all the account balances. 

Then, in December 2013, on the busiest shopping day of the year, problems stopped customers making online and card payments.

RBS has since admitted that its IT systems needs to be overhauled after decades of under-investment.

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