Bloomberg News

RBS Systems Failure Unlikely to Be Resolved Until Monday

June 22, 2012

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s systems failure that left NatWest customers unable to withdraw cash or transfer money in or out of their accounts is unlikely to be resolved before Monday.

The technical issue that affected a “large number” of customers yesterday has been fixed, though it will take a few days to work through a backlog of transactions, Susan Allen, a director at RBS’s consumer unit, told Sky News today. Customers will be updated through the weekend, she said.

“It’s quite frightening that this could happen with all the technology that’s around these days,” said Louise Collins, 40, whose balance has shown as zero for the last 24 hours, meaning she’s unable to withdraw cash or pay bills. “My wages were supposed to be paid today and aren’t showing up yet.”

RBS, which received the world’s biggest bank bailout in 2008, faces increased competition for accounts from banks in the U.K., including Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY) and Banco Santander SA (SAN), as increased funding costs squeeze margins. RBS, which is 82 percent taxpayer owned, has about 15 million personal banking customers across its brands and declined to specify how many were affected.

‘Around the Clock’

“We know that a systems outage on Tuesday caused this backlog,” RBS said in a statement today. “While the system is working, the backlog itself is now the problem and we are working around the clock to fix this.”

RBS will open NatWest branches this evening and over the weekend to help customers affected by the problem. The issue is “strictly of a technical nature” and there have been no security breaches, it said.

RBS’s costs “will only be significant if customers have suffered a financial loss,” said Gary Greenwood, a Liverpool- based analyst at Shore Capital Group Ltd. (SGR) with a hold rating on RBS. “I don’t think it will make a huge amount of difference to their reputation because banks’ reputations aren’t particularly strong anyway.”

RBS said no customers will be left out of pocket. Consumer Focus, a consumer watchdog part-financed by the government, said RBS should “look at providing appropriate compensation to customers who lose out because of this failure.”

Collins, who spoke outside a NatWest branch in Moorgate, in London’s financial district, said the bank gave her 200 pounds ($312) in cash to tide her over while the computer issues persist. Bank employees told Collins charges incurred for late bill payments or overdraft fees would be reimbursed, she said.

Fellow NatWest customer Sol Wallace, 35, said he was unable to withdraw cash yesterday. “I was so annoyed,” he said. “But it seems to be working now.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin Crowley in London at kcrowley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net;


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