Five questions on: RBS/NatWest computer meltdown


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The Independent Online

What happened?

An estimated 600,000 payments to customers of Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Ulster Bank and Coutts were delayed after the group was hit by another embarrassing computer meltdown this week. Many thousands of customers were left complaining that their payments had "disappeared" .

What went wrong?

The banking group said it suffered technical problems on Wednesday morning involving its "overnight process", meaning the payments had been delayed, and that it was working to ensure they were all put through by Saturday – although it completed the job yesterday. That was little comfort to customers hit when their tax credits or disability living allowance failed to arrive, leaving them with no cash for essentials. However, the group said no one would be left out of pocket because of its mistakes and that anyone affected who needed cash should phone 03457 242424 from mobiles or 0800 121129 from landlines, or visit a local branch.

Is this the first time it's happened?

No. The banking group was fined £56m by the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority last year for a big computer failure that left as many as 6.5 million customers unable to use their account for up to three weeks in 2012. In 2013, RBS's online service was disrupted by a "denial of service" attack.

Will it be fined again?

Possibly. Andrew Tyrie of the Treasury Committee said an apology and recompense from the bank isn't enough this time and that it needs to ensure the computer glitches stop happening. "These failures should concern both the conduct and prudential regulators," he said,

What should I do if I was affected?

Check your accounts to ensure that any delayed payments didn't affect essential direct debits such as rent, mortgage or utility bills. Then consider switching to another bank where there may not be the sort of regular disasters that leave you without access to your cash.

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