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Extent of Banks’ IT Problems Revealed

Dominique Adams


Bank of England Scientist

New data has shown that on average major UK banks suffer well over one outage a month. 

Under a voluntary scheme overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UK banks have begun disclosing the number of operational and security incidents they’ve experienced. According to the data, major banks typically experience more than one outage a month.

To make it easier for customers to compare banks and to switch accounts, the FCA told the banks to show evidence of the quality of service they were providing, which is how the scheme came about.

As a result of this request, the banks now share these details online. For example, customers can now find out whether 24-hour help is available, the time frame it takes to open an account and to replace a lost or stolen card, how and when they can make payments, and cancel payments.

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This month is the first time that the data has included the frequency of IT-related shutdowns. Previously, there had been little data on the frequency that banks’ services were suspended due to operational or security incidents.

The new figures revealed that most major high street banks experienced more than ten shutdowns between April and December 2018. In a nine-month period, Barclays reported the most problems with 41 incidents, however, the bank said that many of these were minor incidents.

A spokesman for the bank said: “We take IT resilience extremely seriously and we welcome transparency for our customers which is why we report every incident to the regulator, even minor glitches that have minimal impact on customers.”

He added that the bank offered alternative channels, such as branches and telephones banking, to ensure a continuation of service when these problems occurred. He also noted that the bank had its own status page to help keep customers apprised of which services were operational and which were not.

Barclays was followed by Lloyds Bank, which suffered the second highest number with 37 problems recorded, and other brands in the Lloyds Banking Group jointly reported 31 incidents.

Financial analyst Andrew Hagger, founder and director of Moneycomms, who believes the scale of the problem is significant said:

“There will be occasions when there are minor glitches. But there comes a time when [the banks] have got to overhaul these systems.

“When banks are pushing us towards online and mobile banking, some savings from branch closures and profits should be apportioned to getting systems up to speed.”

Despite the number of shutdowns experienced by Barclays, the company is still ranked second in official rankings for mobile and online banking, and joint fifth for overall satisfaction in a survey of 16,000 banking customers.

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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