UK banks a "long way" from improving antiquated IT systems - PRA director
09 January 2014 | 6376 views | 2
The UK banking sector is a "long way away" from addressing deficiencies in "antiquated" IT systems, a senior Bank of England official has told a parliamentary inquiry.
Sam Woods, a director in the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), was giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.
Asked about a recent series of IT meltdowns at RBS/Ulster Bank, Woods said that an enforcement investigation into the issue was ongoing and that the failures at RBS had prompted the PRA to quiz other banks about their own infrastructures.
The probe revealed a number of unspecified "deficiencies", Woods told the Committee, adding that programmes to address the shortcomings were underway.
At RBS, says Woods, remedial measures introduced following a major breakdown in its systems in 2012 had helped the bank to recover from a recent serious outage in December which left customers unable to withdraw money from ATMs, pay at the point-of-sale or access online and mobile services on the busiest shopping day of the year.
At the time, RBS chief Ross McEwan admitted that the bank had failed to invest properly in its IT system for decades.
Woods told the Committee that although the deficiencies in bank IT infrastructures had been identified, many were using such "antiquated" systems that it would be years before the sector was back on-track.
"I feel we are a very long away from being able to sit here with confidence and say that the UK banks' IT systems are robust," he said.