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UK banks outage caused by problem at US payment service provider

UK consumers were unable to access some banking services due to a hardware failure at a US payments provider

A hardware problem at a US payments service provider left UK customers of major banks and building societies unable to access accounts and pay bills.

According to the Financial Times, problems at payments company TSYS, which provides services to financial services companies, meant customers of finance firms including Nationwide Building Society and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) could not access certain services on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 August.

A spokesperson for TSYS said: “A hardware-related issue which impacted the service we provide some of our European clients has been resolved. We are continuing to monitor our systems and are working closely with our clients to ensure everything is functioning properly.”

At the time of the outage, a spokesperson for RBS said: “We are aware that some of our customers are experiencing intermittent problems viewing their credit cards online and on the mobile app. This is a result of system issues being experienced by a third-party service provider.

“We apologise to any customers impacted and are working with the third-party provider to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. Customers can continue to use their credit cards as usual and no customer will be left out of pocket.”

IT outages at banks and other financial services firms are becoming more common as banks digitise their operations and increasingly service customers via digital channels.

Banks have been reporting information to the FCA about current account services, by way of website links and application programming interfaces (APIs), since August 2018.

Read more financial services IT outages

  • Credit card payment processor moves to assure customers that last Friday afternoon’s downtime was not the work of hackers.
  • TSB’s very public IT problems will send shivers down the spine of IT teams at large banks that are yet to migrate to new core banking systems.
  • After a weekend of the RBS and NatWest outage, accounts are still not back to normal for banking customers.

According to a BBC report, Barclays had the most incidents in the year since then – 33 in the 12 months to the end of June this year – higher than NatWest, which had 25, and Lloyds Bank, which had 23.

Many of these outages are small and are fixed quickly, but major IT outages at financial services providers, such as that experienced by TSB last year during a botched IT migration, can cause serious disruption to the lives of people and businesses.

Banks today are highly reliant on IT systems, and the ability to get these back up and running quickly after an outage is vital. In fact, regulators now want firms to prove they can do this within two days of systems going down.

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