RBS facing multi-million pound fine for IT failures

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to fine the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) tens of millions of pounds after its IT failed in 2012, leaving hundreds of customers without access to their money.

RBS, which owns the Natwest subsidiary, held back 175m to reimburse customers who suffered during the outage, according to the company's third quarter results, but now the FCA looks set to take formal action against the banking group.

According to Sky News, RBS could receive a discount if the bank pays up within 28 days, but if it appeals, the discount will not be an option and proceedings will be further delayed.

More than 17.5m customers were affected by a computer glitch two years ago that meant they could not access their funds, make transfers or pay anyone. Automatic payments didn't go through, so the bank was forced to waive fees for late payments.

It has been revealed since then the problem was down to RBS updating its software system and when this failed, it locked everyone out of their accounts.

CEO Stephen Hester was quick to apologise to those affected by the problems, but he may have apologised too soon because another glitch led to problems in December 2013, meaning - once again - customers were unable to access their own money.

The company blamed lack of investment in its software systems, but the FCA decided to investigate the issues anyway because so many customers were out of pocket after being fined for not making payments on time.

The problems suffered by the bank means it has undergone extensive criticism for not only allowing its systems to go down, but also for failing to respond quickly.

RBS has responded to these problems by promising to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in its systems to ensure the same doesn't happen again.

Clive Adamson, director of supervision at the FCA, said earlier this year: "To access and manage our money we depend on the banks' IT systems being reliable. But IT outages continue, interrupting key banking services.

"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," he added.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.