Bank of America blames a combination of heavy site traffic and an ongoing systems upgrade on the slow response times and intermittent outages that have bedevilled the bank's Website over the past week.
The site started experiencing problems on Friday, a day after BofA said it would start charging a $5 monthly fee for customers who use debit cards. The glitches have continued throughout the week, despite repeated reassurances from the bank that it had resolved the issues.
Bank of America's failure to explain the cause of the downtime has led to wild speculation on Twitter and Internet message boards that it had been the victim of a denial of service attack, or even that it was deliberately slowing down its services to prevent a run on the bank as angry customers moved to switch accounts in the wake of the new debit card fees.
David Owen, senior vice president and head of online and mobile banking for Bank of America denies that the bank has been attacked by hackers, adding that the company has consulted with law enforcement agencies and outside industry experts to get to the root of the problems.
"Everything we know does not point to third party intervention," he told the New York Times, blaming the outages on "a series of events that have converged". These include heavy end-of-month traffic combined with an ongoing systems upgrade, leading to bottlnecks in delivery and supplementary coding issues.
"Our priority is delivering the speed and functionality our customers expect," he says. "We take this very seriously, and this has been very disappointing in terms of not meeting those expectations this week."
While Bank of America has been fire-fighting, rival Citibank took the wraps off a shiny new Website earlier this week, designed to reduce clutter and present customers with a streamlined intuitive online experience. However Citi has also been suffering technical disruptions Finextra understands.
The bank has written to customers apologising for a six-day technology failure that affected payments processing on its online banking site at the end of September. The glitch prevented inbound payments from appearing in customer accounts.
The bank says customers should check their statements carefully and arrange to re-send missing payments that have gone astray. Citi says it will reimburse fees charged to customers where payments have been rejected.