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RBS, Barclays and NatWest customers suffer more mobile banking outages

Banks apologise for problems that have affected mobile and internet banking services

Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest customers have experienced problems accessing mobile and internet banking over the last two days.

On Thursday 20 September, Barclays customers were unable to use the bank’s mobile banking app and today (21 September) customers of RBS and NatWest, which are both part of the RBS Group, were unable to use mobile and internet banking services.

Customers of the banks vented their anger on social media sites such as Twitter.

RBS said: “We are aware of some issues on our mobile app and online service and are working hard to fix them. Sorry and thanks for your patience. You can use our automated phone service for transfers, balances and statements.”

A Barclays spokesperson said: “We are very sorry about the technical problems our customers experienced. Everything is now back up and running, and we are really grateful for customers bearing with us.”

As customers take up digital banking services in their droves, banks are increasingly experiencing problems. Many of them have old and complex legacy systems that sit beneath all their services. As they upgrade to support higher volumes of customers banking using mobile and internet channels, the risk of outages increases.

TSB is a case in point. In April this year, the bank migrated millions of customers from the legacy systems of Lloyds Banking Group, which hosted them, to a new core banking platform from its parent company Sabadell. The migration was undertaken to give the bank the necessary core banking platform to be able to offer digital services.

But disaster struck during the migration and many customers were locked out of their accounts and saw money disappear from online accounts. Some were even able to see other customers’ accounts.

TSB CEO Paul Pester stepped down as a result of the problems.

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With banks reducing their number of branches and support staff, mobile apps are becoming more important for customer services.

Outages, no matter how small, add up and can harm a bank’s reputation because of the speed at which news of a problem spreads across social media. Even people who were not trying to use a banking app or online banking service will join the chorus of complaints.

As part of a discussion paper, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said recently that firms under their remit can report their exposure to risk and their plans to respond to IT outages by 5 October. The paper also said a maximum acceptable time for systems to be down will be set, which will differ from firm to firm.

The FCA said at the time: “The challenges for operational resilience have become even more demanding given a hostile cyber environment and large-scale technological changes. As recent disruptive events illustrate, operational resilience is a vital part of protecting the UK’s financial system, institutions and consumers.”

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