NatWest 'cautiously optimistic' over balance bug clear-up

Summary:NatWest hopes to have most of its customers' account balances rectified on Monday, the bank said on Sunday as the effects of a massive technical failure entered their sixth day.The IT problem began late last Tuesday, making it impossible for many customers of NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank to access their accounts online or through ATMs, and stopping direct debits and standing orders from processing.

NatWest hopes to have most of its customers' account balances rectified on Monday, the bank said on Sunday as the effects of a massive technical failure entered their sixth day.

The IT problem began late last Tuesday, making it impossible for many customers of NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank to access their accounts online or through ATMs, and stopping direct debits and standing orders from processing. The RBS Group was forced to open branches early in response, and even opened 1,200 branches on Sunday morning to assist customers.

Natwest

NatWest hopes to have most of its customers' bank balances rectified on Monday, following an IT glitch. Image credit: NatWest

"I can confirm that we are making progress to clear the backlog of payments and I'm cautiously optimistic that RBS and NatWest customer account balances will be largely back to normal from tomorrow," RBS Group customer services director Susan Allen said in a statement on Sunday.

A spokesman for the RBS Group told ZDNet UK on Monday morning that the software that "broke" was identified on Wednesday and fixed on Friday. He could not identify the software in question, but he did say it was in-house software based in the UK, rather than being an outsourced matter.

The spokesman said the size of the backlog was due to the fact that all 17 million of NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank's customers were "potentially affected".

Over the last few days, the media has been full of reports of affected customers being unable to pay their rent or keep the electricity on. Several reports have pointed to the dilemma faced by disabled customers who have been unable to get to physical bank branches, whether or not they have stayed opened late.

The RBS Group's spokesman said the bank was paying particular attention to customers' mortgages. "We know which customers are due to complete on each date," he said. "We're making sure manual workarounds are being done for those customers."

Customers who have been unable to take possession of a property due to the IT failure are being assisted "on an individual basis", the spokesman said, explaining that the bank was in some cases having to sort out temporary accommodation for customers.

"The knock-on effects of this technical failure mean there will be bumps in the road," Allen said, adding that all overdraft fees and current account charges stemming from the glitch will be waived, and that the bank was working to make sure no one's credit score suffered as a result either. "We will do everything we can to minimise further disruption to our customers. And we continue to rely on and appreciate their patience as we work through possible disruptions."

RBS Group chief Stephen Hester also apologised profusely on Saturday. "Our customers rely on us day in and day out to get things right, and on this occasion we have let them down. This should not have happened," he said.

Topics: Telcos

About

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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