RBS Group batch processing system fails, NatWest customers hard hit

22 June 2012

The overnight batch processing system at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has crashed and is still down, leaving customers yesterday and today unable to access their online statements and payments in and out left unpaid. At present, the problems are still continuing today.

The bank has blamed a “computer glitch” for the problems, which started late on Wednesday night and according to social media reports left some people unable to buy train tickets home yesterday and some wages and business payments left unpaid. The NatWest bank was particularly hard hit, but RBS and the Ulster Bank imprint were also affected.

Almost 1,000 NatWest branches stayed open late last night to try to update customers bank accounts and the same number of branches opened early today on Friday 22 June across the UK, with customer transactions being manually entered from 8am onwards for later upload when and if the batch processing problem is fixed.

To date, there is no sign that the problem is anywhere near being fixed, with a bank statement on Friday morning explaining that, “unfortunately, we are once again experiencing technical issues with our systems”. The bank also admitted in its statement that the on-going problems were an "unacceptable inconvenience".

The bank has also stated that no-one will get fined if they go overdrawn but many people and businesses could still lose money due to the batch processing procedure crashing late on Wednesday night, leading to yesterday’s problems. With no sign of a fix in sight, today could be even worse, and the backlog of payments in and out is building up all the time.

RBS’ initial statement revealed that the issue "was caused by a failure of our systems to properly update customers' balances overnight. The main problem customers are having is that where people have had money go into their accounts overnight, there may be a delay in it showing up on their balance."

The retail bank experienced a similar crash in its customer bank accounts late last year on a busy Friday night, but managed to return the service to normal after one day, something it has not achieved this time around. The technical failure – and its reappearance so soon after the last one – could cause people to further question the robustness of the bank’s systems and resiliency. At the very least the reputational damage is immense, with NatWest's 'Helpful Banking' marketing tagline looking more and more hollow.

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