Natwest customers hit by new payment tech glitch

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group has been forced to apologise to customers for the second time in nine months after a technical glitch left them unable to withdraw cash or make online payments.

The problems are reported to have started yesterday evening, and blighted customers of both RBS and Natwest until the early hours of today.

Many used the social networking site Twitter to complain they could not withdraw money from cash points, make in-store card payments or access online banking services.

At the time of writing, RBS had offered no explanation about the cause of the problem, but released a brief statement expressing its regret at the situation.

"We are disappointed that our customers have faced disruption to banking services for a period on Wednesday evening, and apologise for that. All services are now running as normal again," it stated.

The outage comes nine months after RBS, which owns Natwest and the Bank of Ulster, was forced to apologise to customers after a botched software upgrade stopped overnight payments going through for 17.5 million of its users.

This resulted in many of them missing rent, mortgage and salary payments.

Owen Cole, vice president of EMEA at application performance management vendor ExtraHop, said, given the importance of bank transactions, it is astounding that outages like this still take place.

"Downtime is something that could easily be avoided and organisations need to ensure they are utilising the fast changing technology available to them to prevent similar issues occurring in the future," said Cole.

"Businesses need to be able to see, predict and fix issues in real-time to prevent issues before the occur, and with an organisation's customer service, revenue and ultimately its reputation at stake, proactive monitoring and troubleshooting is something they can't afford not to have," he added.

Iain Chidgey, vice president and general manager at database management vendor Delphix, added: "The IT systems that financial organisations rely on are increasingly complex, the volume of data they handle unprecedented, and the risk of failure is higher than ever before. Yet, software teams can't afford the time and cost of creating the test datasets needed to perform adequate testing.

"Unfortunately when things do go wrong, many firms use older backup software to protect their data. Some of these systems have up to a 30 per cent failure rate when restoring from backup, which means that a software bug can crash the system, and recovery takes much longer than desired, further delaying the customers who require the system," he concluded.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.