UK banking watchdog launches inquiry into resilience of lenders' IT systems

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is launching an inquiry into the high street banks' IT systems following a series of service failures.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is launching an inquiry into the high street banks’ IT systems following a series of service failures.

A glitch on 3 December left Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest customers unable to use debit cards or withdraw cash on one of the year’s biggest online shopping days, Cyber Monday.

Customers of Lloyds Banking Group were hit by an IT failure towards the end of January, and payday traffic caused the mobile platforms of Barclays, Santander and RBS to collapse on 28 February.

RBS and NatWest systems also collapsed on 28 March. In a statement RBS blamed the outage on the same high traffic issues that were experienced in February, adding that it was a particularly busy morning being "a Friday, a pay day and prior to the end of the tax year".

The regulators will report back on findings in early 2015, said the FCA.

"To access and manage our money we depend on the banks’ IT systems to be reliable. But IT outages continue, interrupting key banking services," said Clive Adamson, FCA director of supervision.

"We want to make sure that the banks have resilient IT systems in place that are able to cope with consumer demand, so customers aren’t left financially stranded or disadvantaged."

Michael Allen, VP of application performance management at Compuware said: "The FCA is right to raise this issue. Banking is a core service and the level of disruption that customers have faced over recent times is unacceptable.

"Yet addressing this issue is going to be a big task. Reliance on legacy technologies, the introduction of newer online and mobile solutions, and the soaring rates of transactions are creating huge levels of complexity within the banking IT infrastructure.

"In order to address these issues, performance monitoring and optimisation needs to be baked into every step of the service delivery chain and cross-silo visibility is a necessity. Banks’ IT divisions need to get a handle on this situation; otherwise, we will see more failures and more unhappy customers."


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