02 October 2014

NatWest opens branches early as online problems continue to hit millions

22 June 2012  |  8187 views  |  6 Natwest logo web screen shot

NatWest opened around 1000 branches one hour early Friday morning in a bid to placate millions of customers unable to access online services for a second day running.

NatWest, Ulster Bank and their parent RBS were struck by technical problems yesterday when an IT systems glitch failed to properly update customers' balances overnight, leaving many unable to carry out transactions.

This morning the bank revealed that the same problem struck again last night, saying: "Unfortunately we are once again experiencing technical issues with our systems and account balances have not updated properly overnight. This means where money has gone into a customers account, there may be a delay in it appearing on their balance."

The problem is understood to have arisen after staff tried to install a software update on RBS's payment processing system, but ended up corrupting it.

Having kept around 1000 branches open an hour late last night, NatWest opened up early, at 08.00 Friday morning in a bid to calm customers who have become increasingly irate on social networks such as Twitter.

The bank says it recognises that "this is an unacceptable inconvenience for our customers, for which we apologise" but has not provided any hint on when the glitch will be fixed.

With still no sign of a fix by Friday lunchtime, NatWest has vowed on Twitter to extend branch opening again.

Comments: (6)

Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 22 June, 2012, 12:29

When I tried to login to RBS Internet banking I got the message "service temporarily available", and it invited me to ask for help. Their advice was very misleading [I've no idea what suggestions 1 & 2 might have been, they started at 3...] :-

3. You could try using an alternative Browser if available

4. If you are using Firefox try Firefox Safe mode. If this works then the issue is most likely caused by one of your Firefox addons. 

5. If you are using Internet Explorer 7 or 8 you can try no add-ons mode. If this works then the issue is most likely caused by one of your Internet Explorer addons.

When I went into Webchat around 12 noon Friday I got

"Apologies we are currently experiencing some technical issues with parts of our service. Some account balances are not up to date and not all of our online & telephony services are available at the moment...... I have not been given exact timescales I am afraid, but I would ask that you check your Accounts summary again later ... I can only apologise, and do assure you that we are doing everything we can to resolve these issues."

Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 22 June, 2012, 15:50

When HBOS merged with Lloyds, those business customers who were formerly with HBOS were not able to manage their BUSINESS accounts via online banking for over a month. That problem was fixed; however - nine months (!) later - international business accounts are still not accessible via online banking. An exodus ensued.

Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 22 June, 2012, 18:01

When the problem first manifested itself, why didn't they simply back out the change, revert to the old system, and work out what was wrong without impacting the customers?

I assume the top brass at RBS/Natwest won't be taking their Bonus next year?

A Finextra member | 22 June, 2012, 20:19

IT and customer workflows are increasingly complex. Virtual compute infrastructures combined with rapid application delivery combined with ever more dynamic and real-time business events has created a perfect storm for IT operations managers.  While they weather a lot of storms successfully, the recent outages at NatWest and RBS painfully show the costs of these operations storms. The true cost of the outages likely will include extended opening hours for Saturday and Sunday, the financial ombudsman and, no doubt, customer compensation.

Operations has gone web-scale and IT has yet to catch up. VM-sprawl, agile applications, and mobile access are causing inter-dependencies between IT components to skyrocket.  Simply put, interdependencies are scaling faster than IT.  Worse yet, the complexity is now beyond the human ability to see or manage it.

It's time for operations to rethink their approach to automation.

Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 25 June, 2012, 13:48

As an RBS Business Customer I've just received my first direct communication from RBS re this whole matter (at 1pm Monday) :

"We apologise to all of our customers who have been affected by our technical issues. Over the weekend we have made a lot of progress dealing with the backlog of account updates. For a number of customers we have had to hold up payments which include some Faster Payments and Standing Orders. We will be processing these tonight and tomorrow evening. The scale of the backlog means that we cannot be definitive about these timings but we will ensure that we keep all our customers updated on a regular basis. We are doing everything we can to minimise further disruption and we appreciate your patience as we continue to work through possible disruptions."

So for for some Customers things won't be back to normal until Wed morning - a whole week later - and that's not a definite.

Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 25 June, 2012, 18:19

Just checking my account on-line : £1120 paid in this lunchtime over-the-counter is now queuing up to be credited - but 2 sums paid in the same way on Friday lunchtime for £1704 and £2562 are still nowhere to be seen!

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