UK on­line bank­ing sys­tems crash on New Year

The Punch - - INTERNATIO­NAL BUSINESS -

THe New Year got off to a bad start for mil­lions of Lloyds, Hal­i­fax and Bank of Scot­land cus­tomers, who were un­able to gain ac­cess to their ac­counts through the banks’ web­sites and mo­bile apps for al­most nine hours be­cause of an out­age.

As re­ported by The Guardian, the three brands, which are part of Lloyds Bank­ing Group, apol­o­gised re­peat­edly to cus­tomers af­ter the problem started at about 4am on New Year’s Day, a bank hol­i­day when branches are shut.

They put out the same state­ment on Twit­ter on Wed­nes­day morn­ing: “We know our cus­tomers are hav­ing is­sues with in­ter­net and mo­bile bank­ing. We’re sorry about this and we’re work­ing to have it back to nor­mal soon.”

By lunchtime the three brands said in­ter­net and mo­bile bank­ing were back to nor­mal. They tweeted: “We’re sorry for the is­sues with it this morn­ing. Thanks for your messages.”

The is­sue pre­vented cus­tomers from log­ging in via the web and the mo­bile app.

Tele­phone bank­ing, card pay­ments and ATM trans­ac­tions were not af­fected. The bank said it was an in­ter­nal problem, not a cy­ber­se­cu­rity one, which its IT team had now fixed.

With 22 mil­lion cur­rent ac­count cus­tomers, Lloyds

Bank­ing Group is the UK’S largest provider and also of­fers the most “ba­sic” bank ac­counts. It has 13 mil­lion ac­tive on­line cus­tomers, of which more than nine mil­lion are mo­bile users. All of them were po­ten­tially af­fected.

A spokeswoma­n was un­able to say whether cus­tomers would re­ceive any com­pen­sa­tion but added that any­one who had in­curred charges as a re­sult of the out­age should get in touch with their bank.

An­gry cus­tomers re­ported on so­cial me­dia that they could not ac­cess bank­ing ser­vices from their com­put­ers or smart­phones and had been locked out of their ac­counts for hours. Many also com­plained that they had not been given a timescale for when on­line ser­vices would be back up and run­ning again.

Cus­tomers were told to call their bank if they needed to trans­fer funds ur­gently, but some said they were un­able to get through, and com­plained they were put on hold for a long time be­fore be­ing cut off.

One cus­tomer asked Lloyds whether it would waive his over­draft fee, and the bank told him to raise this with its cus­tomer ser­vice team.

A num­ber of UK banks have ex­pe­ri­enced out­ages in re­cent months. Natwest’s on­line and mo­bile phone app crashed on Black Fri­day, one of the busiest shop­ping days of the year.

By far the worst melt­down was at TSB last year, caused by the change to a new IT plat­form be­fore it had been fully tested. It re­sulted in al­most 1.9 mil­lion cus­tomers be­ing locked out of their ac­counts and the prob­lems took months to fully re­solve.

In Oc­to­ber, MPS warned that IT fail­ures in the bank­ing sec­tor were run­ning at an un­ac­cept­able rate.

The Trea­sury se­lect com­mit­tee said cus­tomers were be­ing left “cash­less and cut off” af­ter prob­lems at sev­eral fi­nan­cial groups, adding: “The cur­rent level and fre­quency of dis­rup­tion and con­sumer harm is un­ac­cept­able.”

With bank branches and cash ma­chines dis­ap­pear­ing, cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly re­liant on on­line bank­ing ser­vices, but these have been se­verely dis­rupted by IT fail­ures at firms in­clud­ing TSB, Visa, Bar­clays and Royal Bank of Scot­land, the com­mit­tee said.

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