RBS admits decades of IT neglect after systems crash

Tue Dec 3, 2013 10:41am EST
 
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By Steve Slater and Aashika Jain

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland has neglected its technology for decades, the state-backed bank's boss admitted on Tuesday after a system crash left more than 1 million customers unable to withdraw cash or pay for goods.

The problem for three hours on Monday, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, raised questions about the resilience of RBS's technology, which analysts and banking industry sources regard as outdated and made up of a complex patchwork of systems after dozens of acquisitions.

"For decades, RBS failed to invest properly in its systems," Ross McEwan, who became chief executive in October, said.

"Last night's systems failure was unacceptable ... I'm sorry for the inconvenience we caused our customers," he said, adding he would outline plans in the New Year to improve the bank and increase investment.

The latest crash could cost RBS millions of pounds in compensation and follows a more serious crash in its payments system last year that Britain's regulator is still investigating.

The regulator has been scrutinizing the resilience of all banks' technology to address concerns that outdated systems and a lack of investment could cause more crashes.

The technology glitch is another setback for the bank's efforts to recover from the financial crisis when it had to be rescued in a taxpayer-funded bailout. The government still owns 82 percent of RBS.

RBS's cash machines did not work from 1830-2130 GMT on Monday and customers trying to pay for goods with debit cards at supermarkets and petrol stations, buy goods online or use online or mobile banking were also unable to complete transactions.   Continued...

 
The logo of the Royal Bank of Scotland is seen at an office in London February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall