Up to 12 million Royal Bank of Scotland, Natwest and Ulster bank customers were left unable to withdraw cash, pay bills or move money yesterday after a computer glitch froze their bank accounts on Wednesday night.
The glitch, which also affected online banking services, meant people faced fines for late payment of bills because the computer breakdown left them with insufficient funds to honour direct debit arrangements or direct debits payments were not made- even moving homes where mortgages are being frozen.
Natwest kept 1,000 branches open until 7pm yesterday to deal with customers’ complaints. The problem also affected over 100,000 customers at Northern Ireland’s Ulster Bank, which is also owned by RBS Group.
The banking group apologised for the “unacceptable inconvenience” it had caused to customers and said it was investigating the causes of the problems.
Sarah Brooks, director of financial services at Consumer Focus, said: “We hope that the problem will be resolved quickly and doesn’t happen again. Natwest and Royal Bank of Scotland should also look at providing appropriate compensation to any customer who loses out because of this failure.”
Problems with the group’s computers meant that people who were relying on money being paid into their accounts, such as wages, were unable to access this cash.
The technical fault did not affect people who had pre-existing sums of money in their accounts yesterday. The banks’ ATM machines are still working and branches remain open.
A spokesman for RBS Group said: “This is a technical problem affecting a large number of NatWest and Ulster Bank customers, and a small number of RBS customers, including some of our business customers.
“It 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.”
Whilst the bank this morning claims that the updating computer breakdown issue has been fixed, variuos media organisations and Twitter users claim that problems are still occurring.
Indeed #natwest is currently trending at number 2 on Twitter.
It was the bank’s advertising slogan Helpful Banking which attracted the attention of many customers on Twitter- for example
@AngryBritain “NatWest – Helpful Banking. No, not really. Did you make a backup first?”
One only hopes that all of the problems are fixed by Monday.