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An open letter to Martin Wolf at the FT

Dear Mr Wolf,

In your piece "Adapting to Britain’s mediocre prospects -Published: July 16 2009 20:16" you say "...It must start by making finance safer. The simple and painful truth is that another such financial shock might even bankrupt the British state. No industry can be allowed to impose such costs – comparable, in fiscal terms, to those of a major war – on a largely innocent public."

A fundamental requirement to make finance safer must be the mandating, by the Bank of England, of minimum Service Level Agreements for all financial institutions in the UK which offer current account and deposit account services to the public. The collapse of Northern Rock came about not because of Robert Peston's BBC News report but because customers sought to undertake transactions using the internet services of Northern Rock after watching the news.  Some of these wished to close their account but others merely wished to undertake some basic transactions. The volume of customers attempting transactions overloaded the bank's servers because insufficient capacity and resilience had been built into the bank's network. It did not have the capacity to scale and pull in servers and other computing resources in other countries to enable it to service its' customers requirements. Unable to access their bank and suspecting the worst. the customers queued at branches - and the rest is history.

We are now in an age when the same situation, triggered by a rumour (a Tweet from a well followed Twitter celebrity?) could lead to a run on a high street bank. Internet resilience must not be optional.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Kelman


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